Shanti Pax has launched a peace process. This is blog #8 of a 10-blog series called, “The Peace Process: Your 10 Most Powerful Actions for Lasting Peace.” These are the top 10 actions you can take to be AT PEACE during your day and ADD PEACE to the world.
Your 8th most powerful action is: Care for Mother Earth.
I’ve spent a good part of my career scanning the horizon to identify future and unforeseen conflicts around the world. In doing so a clear trend has emerged: environmental issues are a growing driver of conflict.
In a previous post, “Are You Pursuing the Wrong Dream?,” we address how over-consumption is hindering peace in the world. Now, we’ll shift the focus to the element of water. Water is a cleansing and healing element of life. Water is a precious commodity, but isn’t always treated with care.
According to a United Nations Human Development Report, the average American uses 152 gallons of water per day, compared to the four gallon-per capita use in Mozambique. UN-Water predicts that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population will exist in a state of very limited resources.
When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Romania, a gold mining company caused a cyanide spill that became the worst environmental disaster in Europe since Chernobyl. Around 100,000 cubic meters of cyanide-contaminated water spilled into the Danube and began floating down the river in a giant, tarry blob, estimated to be 700 times over the permitted levels.
I lived in a shipping town on the Danube Delta in an area dependent on the Danube for its water supply. When the black blob reached where I lived, the city shut off the water supply for 15 days. Soon after the water was shut off, there was a bottled water shortage.
Up until that point in my life, I had no real awareness of just how much I used water. Water had always just been there for me. I didn’t realize how precious it was until I didn’t have it. From cooking to washing to bathing to using the toilet – water sustained me.
For over two weeks, I drank small amounts of orange juice and ate packaged junk food that didn’t require cooking. I consumed as little as possible so I wouldn’t have to use the toilet. It was miserable.
When the tap water was finally turned back on, government officials warned that the cyanide levels were still high and advised us not to use or consume. At that point, I missed water so badly I was willing to risk cyanide poisoning.
The experience taught me that water is precious. The lesson was reinforced when I lived in Sudan and saw the great lengths people went through for a few gallons of water per day – less than the average dish washing cycle.
We need water to live, and the answer is not to feel guilty every time we take a shower – the answer is to change our relationship with the element.
The goal is to treat water as a precious commodity – something you appreciate, are grateful for, and want to conserve.
There are numerous success stories to conservation. Cities and communities around the globe have seen water consumption rates drop precipitously – even as populations grow – in response to conservation initiatives. You have the power to be part of this success.
You can decide to be grateful for the water coming from your tap and do what you can to conserve and ensure there is enough for everyone.
The following are 16 tips for conserving water throughout your day:
- Put a plastic water bottle in toilet tank. Toilet flushing is often the biggest single water consumer. If you take a plastic bottle, put a few pebbles or rocks in it, fill it with water, and then place it in the back of your toilet, you can save up to 10 gallons of water per day. By placing the bottle in the toilet tank, less water is needed to fill the tank and therefore less water is being flushed. Experiment to see if a 1 or 2 liter bottle fits better and be sure it is not touching the working parts of the toilet. Tip from seametrics.com.
- Install low-volume toilets. There are super-efficient toilets made today that will save you 6 or 7 gallons per flush, or consider putting in a composting toilet which requires no water at all. Tip from seametrics.com.
- Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Every time a facial tissue or small bit of trash is flushed down the toilet, 5-7 gallons of water is wasted. Tip from eartheasy.com.
- Don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth. This can result in over 200 gallons of water per month straight down the drain. Tip from greenhome.com.
- Use your sprinkler as a toy. If your kids want to cool off, run your sprinkler for them in an area of your lawn that needs some watering. Tip from wateruseitwisely.com.
- Be a leak detective. Check all hoses, connectors, and faucets regularly for leaks and fix immediately if you find anything. Monitor your water bill for unusually high months. Tip from wateruseitwisely.com.
- Buy energy-efficient appliance and only run when full. Only run your washer and dishwasher when they are full. This can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per month. When buying new appliances, check for the EPA WaterSense label. These appliances are certified to be at least 20% more efficient with no drop in performance level. Tip from greenhome.com.
- Install a low-flow shower head. Typical shower heads flow at a rate of around 2.5 gallons a minute. Low-flow shower heads use aeration or oscillating pressure to maintain the feel of a strong shower while using as little as 1.5 gallons a minute. You can also install low flow sink faucets or aerators, which will reduce sink faucet flow to as little as .5 gallons per minute. Tip from greenhome.com.
Take shorter showers. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water. Also try turning off the water while you lather up. Tip from groovygreenlivin.com.
- Rinse your razor in the sink. Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water. Tip from eartheasy.com.
- Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units. In-sink garbage disposals require a lot of water to operate properly, and also add considerable to the volume of solids in the septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternative method of disposing food waste. Tip from eartheasy.com.
- Water your lawn and garden early in the morning. Watering in the early morning is a perfect time for allowing water to infiltrate soil, sink in, and give plants strength to beat the heat. The later in the day it is, the higher the evaporation rate will be. Tip from goodgirlgonegreen.com.
- Collect Rain Water. The cost of watering your lawn and garden can be very high. Every drop of water that comes through your pipes needs to be treated and processed, which amounts to a huge energy cost. Collecting rain water is a great way to offset your water usage. Install a rain barrel in your yard to collect the water nature gives you. Tip from ways2gogreenblog.com.
Take care when washing fruits and vegetables. Wash fruits and vegetables in a pan of clean water instead of running water from the tap. Collect and save the water used for rinsing fruits and vegetables and reuse it to water houseplants. Tip from groovygreenlivin.com.
- Water houseplants with ice cubes. Ice cubes will absorb slowly, preventing excess water running out. Cubes that were dropped on the floor work well for this tip. Tip from sustainablebabysteps.com.
- Don’t rinse dishes with running water. Whether pre-rinsing for the dishwasher or after handwashing, fill the sink or a bowl with an inch of water to rinse the dishes. If you’re using a bowl, that water can go into your compost or garden. Do you even need to rinse? If you have a newer dishwasher or enzyme-based detergent, it may be capable of cleaning dishes without rinsing first. Tip from sustainablebabysteps.com.
There is an amazing side effect to caring for Mother Earth, such as conserving water: you feel good about yourself. Adopting an environmental practice such as water conservation not only helps the planet, it allows you to feel more at peace with how you’re living.
Speak up: Have you ever been without water for a period of time? What tips can you share to conserve water? How does conservation make you feel? Post a comment below.
Take action: I challenge you to develop a new relationship with water as something you love, appreciate, and want to conserve. Do what you can to implement the tips above and other water conserving methods.
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Remember, it’s the little changes you make in your daily life that brings greater peace to the whole