Down the Drain: When Water Runs Out
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
As the rain pours down yet again in Toronto, it seems like if anything we have an overabundance of water. But we know that globally, this is simply not the case. Climate change is making oceans rise and creating the conditions for more severe storms, but since the overall trend is warming, for many people access to water is a huge issue. We've all heard of prolonged droughts destroying crops and killing not only livestock, but people; of multinational corporations draining aquifers to bottle drinks for profit; of tailings ponds so polluted they contaminate nearby water sources.
In Canada, when we complain "I ran out of water halfway through my shower," we're talking about hot water. It's because our water heater is too small, or other family members were doing laundry, taking showers first, etc. We have no concept of what it's like to actually run out of water as in, have nothing come out when you turn the tap, or have to walk kilometres each day just to haul enough water back for cooking and basic sponge baths.
Because World Rivers Day was yesterday, I feel it's important to talk about water and how essential it is, obviously to all life, but also to our way of life. Time was I thought nothing of filling the tub nice and deep (even in Vegas), adding some heavily perfumed drugstore bubbles that were mostly detergent, chemicals and phthalates (which cause endocrine disruption, mimicking estrogen in nature, and have been linked to cancer) and just having a great old time in there before pulling the plug and releasing it all into the water table. I did this often.
I still love my weekly bath. I still shower daily on the other 6, and I like to scrub a lot so they're probably longer than they should be, and I should also mention I love to clean the house (yes, I'm basically crazy), so on average, our family consumes slightly more (according to our water bill) than the average family of four in Ontario. However, I'm a little more mindful of what I do in the tub - and in the bathroom - these days, so that hopefully my children will be grow up in a world where it's still not only affordable and permissible, but also ethical, to enjoy getting clean.
Here are some tips to save water in the tub, shower and bathroom sourced from the Trade Winds Imports blog, and I have added my own honest comments about whether or not we practice what we preach. Please hold me accountable for positive change!
-Plug the drain before you start running the water: YES! I have always done that! You don't have to wait for it to get hot first; you'll have plenty of time to adjust the temperature as it fills.
-Check for, and fix, faucet drips: YES! However, I am guilty of running the water at a drip for our geriatric cat, who will only drink out of the tub. I am fine with this, except sometimes we would forget to turn it off for hours, which adds up to a tremendous waste of water. We are actually doing a good job of being mindful that whoever turns the water on for kitty, turns it off after, too.
-This may sound unsanitary or unappealing, and I totally get that, but if you have multiple children...why not bathe them together? Ours have switched to showers, but I still insist on a weekly soak with lots of fun and skin-loving bath oils, bath bombs and bath salts...they are boy and girl so they go in separately, but they still share the same big full tub and they don't mind at all. They each miss an average of 1 day of school per year including summer, due to illness. They don't get germs from the bathtub...mind you I do keep the tub clean!
-Speaking of cleaning the tub, when you get a bathtub ring from soap residue, bath bomb colour or clay/mud mask/hair treatments, do you scrub the tub with harsh chemicals? There is really no need. As you drain the tub, just wipe the ring with a cleaning sponge using the bath water itself. Save the Javex for the weekly clean. Do I do this? YES!
-Install a water saving shower head: NO. We have not done this :(
-Take short showers: 3 members of the family do! I do not. :(
-Turn off water while lathering up: NO. I'm starting to think I suck at this. :(
For the Bathroom in General:
-Hang towels up and leave the bathroom door open when not in use: YES! Why wash towels constantly when all they need is to air dry and you can use them for days before laundering is necessary? Ditto goes for your kids' swim towels: We hang ours up right after use (key to prevent musty, mildewy smell from setting in) and reuse for two lessons before washing.
-Turn off water when brushing teeth, shaving, etc. YES! We do this!
So I need to work on my shower obviously! Comment on what you are doing to save water in the bathroom - tips and hacks are very welcome!