Conserving resources

Conservation. It is the word of the age. Well, that and green. I guess it is about time that we have so many people on this planet where we really need to stop wasting resources. Recycling is practically a standard in all newer metropolitan neighborhoods. I know mine has it, as does the surrounding neighborhoods. Even my older neighborhood raised homeowners fees to bring it back due to popular demand.

Why recycle? Simple. People are starting to realize that there is not an endless supply of resources on this planet. As advanced as we have become, there will come a time when fossil fuels run out. Of course, I would not be surprised if some scientist somewhere found a way to produce more off animal/human remains. As disturbing as that sounds, I would not put it past people to try.

Once the fossil fuels run out, we will be back in the 1800’s. Horses will make a comeback for transportation. The oil that is left will be reserved most likely for governmental use only. It will be like going back in time. No more electricity, because it takes oil to make the conductive lines and oil to fill the transformers at power plants. People will be back to wood burning stoves, and planting trees all around to make sure there is a constant supply of wood. I am pretty sure bamboo would be a plant of choice for building huts to live in because it grows at such a rapid rate and it is fairly easy to take care of. It is like a weed.

WaterWhat I constantly hear about conservation is “how can doing this one little thing make a difference?” Hmm, well lets see. Let us say that you just installed a dual flush toilet to replace your old one. Now, your old one used 3.5 gallons per flush. This new one uses 1.8 GPF max, and 0.8 GPF. Coming up with numbers, we can throw out that maybe the toilet is used 7 times a day (just using a random number). Two of those flushes require more water usage (I am sure you know what I mean), while the remaining 5 only require a light flush. So 7 x 3.5 is 24.5 gallons every day. That is 171.5 gallons a week and 8,918 gallons over a year. This is just for a toilet. Using the same figures with the dual flush, we only reach 7.6 gallons a day. I will throw a little algebra at you now.

(2 x 1.8) + (5 x 0.8) = (3.6) + (4) = 7.6 gallons

That means you only use 53.2 gallons per week and 2766.4 per year. You save 6,151.6 gallons per year. It is that money that you are just throwing down the drain, literally.

Now, look at a simplistic shower head. The cheap ones that some people get put out 2.5 gallons per minute. Assuming an average time of 25 minutes for a shower, that means a person dumps out 62.5 gallons per shower. Just saying one person uses the shower, that means 437.5 gallons are used per week and 22,750 are used per year. Just going from 2.5 to 2.0 GPM means 50 gallons per shower, 350 per week and 18,200 per year. Just by dropping 0.5 GPM, you save 4550 gallons a year. If you drop another 0.5 and use a 1.5 GPM showerhead, that results in 37.5 gallons per shower, 262.5 per week and 13,650 per year. That is a savings of 9,100 gallons over the 2.5 GPM head and 4550 over the 2.0 GPM unit.

Starting to see how a little goes a long way? If you visit the CEC (California Energy Commission) website (CEC.org) it states that an average bath uses 30-50 gallons of water. Of course it depends on the user. If you fill it up shallow, you can use less than a shower. However, if you only turn on your shower when you need to use the water, you can use less than the low filled tub. Like I said, it depends on the user. On the heavy side, a person would use 50 gallons per bath. One bath a day for a week is 350 gallons, which is 18,200 a year. However, if you only fill it up half of your normal level, you use only 25 gallons a bath, which means 175 gallons a week and 9,100 a year. Just by practicing a little self control, you can save huge amount of water a year!

So no more excuses that little things cannot make a big difference. Overall, a house can save 15,252 gallons per year by simply swapping toilets and using a 1.5 GPM shower head (for one person, bigger savings for a bigger family). If the person used half the max average bath level, the total savings increases to 19,802 gallons per year. That is huge! Now, imagine if a neighborhood of 200 houses each had the same water usage as above, by simply swapping toilets and using the water saving shower head, using the figures above, the neighborhood could save 3,050,400 gallons per year! If they used the toilet and the half max average bath level, that means 3,960,400 gallons per year! Amazing. A little truly does go a long way. Something as simple as changing a fixture and nothing else can reap such big rewards.

I located current water rates for the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was the first site to pop up on my search. On that site it lists for every 748 gallons, it costs $1.68. How about we plug in that number to what we have above?

Water dollarToilet cost per year:
3.5 GPF – $20
Dual flush – $6.21

Shower/bath cost per year:
2.5 GPM shower head – $51.10
1.5 GPM shower head – $30.66
1/2 full bath – $20.40

So by swapping out the toilet and shower head, you save $34.23 a year, and using half bath with toilet saves $40.49. Does not sound like much does it? But that is $40 more than you would of had previously. These numbers do not include sinks, dishwashers, clothes washer, or any other water utilizing appliance in the house. If we plug in the 200 people in the neighborhood, that is $6,846 in savings for the toilet and shower, and $8,098 for the toilet and half bath level. Not bad!

Just imagine if you also applied these small savings to electrical items or natural gas items such as a gas water heater. Savings can be found all over! Just by turning out the lights or only using half the bulbs in the light over your vanity, that can save tons. Do we really need 15 bulbs going off at the same time in the same room? Most likely not.

Just thinking a little bit before you use something can make big differences. If you know the laundry is not heavily soiled due to grime, dirt, or anything like that, how about using a lower water level or a shorter wash time? Maybe using cold water instead of using hot water, which uses extra electricity or gas to heat the water. Small steps, in the long run, saves a lot of resources.

Of course, also thinking about the impact of purchasing items that you do not really need can help too. Buying that item that only serves one purpose in the kitchen…think about how much went into making it, shipping it and packaging it. Then there is also the disposal costs from when you unpack it and throw away the box. All of these play a part in conservation. Sooner or later, laws may be passed where conserving is mandatory. You never know.

I am not some left wing hippy either. I just know I can reduce what I use. Much like reducing the clutter in a house. By simply using less, you desire less. A full bath or a long shower is not something I really miss. In the end I am simply happy with being clean. That is the ultimate goal, is it not?
Kleen Kanteen
I like knowing I am using less. I like refilling my Kleen Kanteen with filtered water out of my house than to buy water bottles at the store. It just makes more sense. Plus I do not have to worry about the chemicals in the plastic leaking into the water. I can leave the stainless steel bottle in the hot car and not worry. It is worth a little peace of mind.

Small things truly can make a big difference. Especially if you can save electricity. Electricity costs so much these days. Just do a few little things and you can get a free tank of gas for your car at the end of the year. Of course, some may argue that $40 is not worth all the work. Sooner or later, even water will be a precious resource and the cost to get it will go up. Training yourself now to become a bit more frugal when it comes to using resources is a good thing. Besides, we have to leave something for our children, right?

Okay, I am done now. Now I want to go ride my bike, but I am stuck at work. Go figure!

Ride on my friends.

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About TrekRiderMark

I like to ride bicycles and stay fit. I am also a professional photographer and artist. I dabble a bit in web design and as a graphic artist.
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