This past Thursday I took part in one of my favourite New West activities – The Royal City Farmers Market. I’m there most weeks, getting my cookies at Delish and stocking up on berries and kale. I spend at least an hour watching my kids cross the stepping-stones over and over. This week I was able to experience the other side of the market. Alongside Jennifer Lukianchuk, the city’s Environmental Coordinator, I hosted a table to discuss water conservation.
The table was a great success and I had so many fruitful conversations. We collected people’s water saving tips, including some I had not heard before. We talked about the fear that this bone-dry season has caused many of us, and the fact that some people are still acting oblivious. We talked about the intense amount of water it takes to make our food and small things we can tweak in our diets. I was also impressed at the number of people who were committed to staying away from bottled water. Canada is a large consumer of bottled water without much need to be, but if the citizens of New West are a good indicator, that will change. Do we really need to drink water that requires 5 litres to produce only 1 litre of usable product? That ratio becomes far worse when you are importing water.
I think that most of us are mindful of small things, we teach our children not to run the water when brushing their teeth, we don’t just let the water run for no reason. But I don’t know that we are actually aware of how much water we use in our day-to -day lives. If you had to guess how much of this liquid gold you go through a day what would you say? 100 litres? 200 litres? That’s about two bathtubs full. Try to picture two bathtubs full of clean water and ask yourself if you could get through the day with that amount. It seems like a reasonable expectation, but in truth the average person in BC uses at least 350 litres of water each day. I know that we can cut that number significantly, without making too many sacrifices.
Can you take this opportunity to let go of things that don’t need to be done so often? I’ve cut way back on my laundry by only washing when it’s really needed and who among us doesn’t want to lighten that load? I’ve fully embraced the mantra “If it’s yellow, let it mellow”, which we were already doing but is now a point of weird pride for the kids. An older toilet can take 25-30 litres to flush, with four people in our home we are easily saving a couple of hundred of litres a day. I’m struggling to cut down on my shower time as that is where I hide…but I do collect excess shower water in a bucket and then use it to clean off the worst of my boys’ filth, or to clean the bathroom. Most of the changes I’ve made at home just take a little bit of awareness and haven’t changed our lifestyle.
The biggest change I’ve made is going back to being a vegetarian. Once I really accepted the fact that it takes 15,000 litres of water to create 1 kg of beef I realized that all of the water saving measures I made at home, were nothing compared to the water it takes to make my food. So, meat is out, dairy is on its way out and coffee is…in. I’m just not there yet!
I know that the changes we’ve made may be modest compared to the massive policy changes we need, but I think that it is the change in awareness that makes the most lasting impact in our personal lives.
Share your water wise tips with us, spark more conversations about conservation in our neighbourhoods!