Twenty-five seconds showers

I don’t know about you guys, but I know my family wastes a LOT of water. We let it run long enough to get the chemical taste out if we’re going to drink it, take luxuriously long, hot showers, run the dishwasher when it’s only half full, and more. Our friend Keith reminds us of the impending water crises around the globe and how we can do our own small part to help avoid disaster. Thank you, Keith, for this important reminder!

To our friends in both Florida and Canada … keep safe as best you can with the hurricanes that are coming your way. You are in our hearts today.


Regardless of whether elected officials want to talk about this, we have a global water crisis that has been building for some time. Here in the states, it manifests itself in three ways: more severe droughts in drier areas, evaporating and depleting water sources, and too many lead pipes still being used to provide water to cities.

And, this is before climate change has made the situation worse. I have cited before a statistic from a Duke Energy report that said climate change will cause evaporation from their water sources by 11% more than before. The folks out in the western part of the US are seeing major river sources at risk with so many competing users and states. The same is true in other parts of the world such as Cape Town, South Africa and in Chile, eg.

So, there are many things we must do combat these problems…

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If It Ain’t Broke …

There is a saying on this side of the pond, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Now, while I admit that there are exceptions to this, for the most part I find it to be sage advice.  A few examples …

Tide Pods

Recently Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Tide laundry detergent, decided to re-design the lids to their Tide Pods product.  There was nothing wrong with the old lid.  I buy the 150 count container once a month, and have never once had a complaint about the lid … until two months ago.  Used to be, the lid had a little indentation in which to place your thumb, then simply pop the hinged top up, grab a pod and give the lid a little push to close it again.  Simple and can be done with one hand, since the other hand is typically otherwise occupied.

But then … some bozo over at P&G with too much time in his hands said to no one in particular, “Hey, I got an idea … let’s make the lids on Tide Pods impossible to open!”  And somebody else with a budget bigger than their brains thought it was a wonderful idea, and it took off from there.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in r&d costs later, the idea was good to go.  P&G spent a few more hundreds of thousands to re-tool their assembly line in order to manufacture …Tide pods

A child-proof lid!  Whoa … I did not realize that so many children were into eating laundry detergent!  And wait, is it too much trouble for parents of small children to place their pods on a shelf above the washing machine so that the tots cannot reach it?  I know, I hear you shaking your heads and saying, “What the heck is she prattling about now – what’s the big deal?”

Well, let me tell you the big deal, friends!  The lid is made such that one must either have very large, strong hands, else use two hands, and even then it is difficult to open.  The two “press here” spots are about six inches apart and are very difficult to press in. They are obviously made for someone of Paul Bunyan’s stature, but I have small, arthritic hands and I cannot open this! My solution has been to use a sharp knife to break the lid off completely, throw the lid away and leave the pods on the rack shelf next to the washer/dryer uncovered.  It is the only way!

Toaster Scrambles

Toaster Scrambles, made by Pillsbury, are one of the few processed foods that I even buy, for I am a firm believer that ‘made from scratch’ is tastier, more economical and healthier.  But, when it comes to breakfast, if I cannot grab something quick, simple & tasty, I just skip the meal altogether and wait for supper (I don’t do lunch … ever!).  So, I keep a few such things around, coffee-flavoured yogurt, granola, instant oatmeal and toaster scrambles.  I like these …


But then, Pillsbury decided to change it around a bit.  They added potatoes.


WHY???  To cut the cost of the product, of course!  Potatoes are cheaper than eggs, cheese, bacon or sausage, so if they added potatoes, they could cut back on the more expensive ingredients.  They also cut back on the flavour, and now I honestly cannot tell the difference in taste between the pastry itself and the cardboard box it comes in!  I’m going back to my banana-walnut oatmeal with a dollop of peanut-butter.

I actually sent Pillsbury an email telling them that I was disgusted with the new product and would not buy them again.  I received a canned response thanking me for taking the time to write.

Faucet aerators

Recently the maintenance crew where I live came along and, without so much as asking if I would like new faucet aerators, installed them in all three bathroom sinks and the kitchen, as well as new shower heads in the two upstairs baths.  These devices are supposedly ‘new and improved’ and will save on water.  Sigh.  The old ones worked fine, in fact, about a year ago I had replaced all the bathroom sink aerators, and I replace the one in the kitchen from time-to-time.  No, I am not a plumber by trade, but I know my way around the workings of faucets, drains and toilets.  Feel free to call me anytime … I make house calls.

So, after the maintenance dudes did all this, I went to the sink, turned the water on, and wondered what that was coming out of the spigot … a stream of bird pee, perhaps?  I held my hands under it and within about 30 seconds, they were actually wet enough to apply soap!  Before, I could fill my kitchen sink in about a minute, but with this new and improved aerator, it took fully 5 minutes!!!  Now, how the sam hell is this saving water?  On to the shower … AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHH!!!  It took three times as long to wash my body, then about 2-3 minutes to get my hair wet enough to apply shampoo, then another 2-3 minutes to get all the suds out.  I didn’t even bother with conditioner.

Even tooth-brushing was a challenge!

Suffice it to say that both shower heads and all four faucet aerators have now been replaced with ones that actually work.  Note, please, that I am all for conserving water, and I try very hard to do so, but when I spend 4 times longer in the shower, it did not save any water, and it did likely shorten my expected life span!

These were just three such cases that have set my teeth on edge lately, though I could no doubt think of many more, given time and space.  There is, of course, the opposite argument that is best stated in this cartoon …If it ain't broke

Water, Water Everywhere … NOT!

lawnLast March, California Governor Jerry Brown announced his state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, in an effort to cope with four years of the worst drought in the state’s history. A warming climate and the lack of snow in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges dramatically reduced snowmelt, a crucial provider of water to California and the agricultural belt in its Central Valley. So, Governor Brown imposed a requirement for cities and towns to cut water consumption by 25%.  “We’re in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

Arguably, the two most crucial elements to maintain life on earth are air and water.  So, requiring everyone to cut water consumption by 25% seems a logical and not too dramatic move.  But remember, this is California, home to celebrities and other wealthier-than-average citizens who have large, lush lawns, swimming pools, and avocado trees.  To put it in perspective, nationwide the average family of 4 uses 400 gallons of water per day, or approximately 12,500 gallons per month.  Conversely, comedian Amy Poehler, last year used 170,000 gallons more than allowed in just two months between May 14 and July 14. Her excess alone would have supplied water to an average household for 14 months!  And this was after the water restrictions went into effect. Entertainment magnate David Geffen used 27,000 gallons on average per day between June and August.  That is 1,620,000 gallons of water in a two-month period!  Enough to supply an average household with water for 11 years!  Apparently the rich do not believe the rules and regulations apply to them.

But it is not only the rich-and-famous who decried and defied the restrictions.  Rancho Santa Fe resident Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.  People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.  We pay significant property taxes based on where we live, and, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”  Wow.  What a great, humanitarian attitude, Mr. Yuhas.  God forbid that you have to golf on a less-than-lush golf course just so some who are ‘less equal’ than you can have water to drink, cook, and bathe!  Another Rancho Santa Fe resident, Gay Butler, said “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”  Awwww …. Pobrecita!  Perhaps you could try being thankful that you have four acres and that thus far you at least have clean drinking water, unlike so many around the world! Overall, however, it appears that most average citizens, people like you and me, understand and have adapted with few complaints.


California Golf Course – grass does not get that green without LOTS of water!

So that was last year.  Though the drought is ongoing and scientists predict it will last for several more years or even decades, just this month the State Water Resources Control Board voted to end the restrictions and let 408 water districts decide how much water their customers should conserve.  Moderate to severe drought still grips three-quarters of California, and studies show the state is the driest it has been in 500 years! So researchers, scientists and concerned citizens (obviously this would not include Mr. Yuhas and Ms. Butler from the previous paragraph) are scratching their heads and wondering why the state is lifting the restrictions at this time, and whether it is the wise thing to do.  Max Gomberg, climate conservation manager for the Water Resources Control Board, said that they will continue to monitor water usage and supplies and are prepared to step in with new restrictions should it become necessary.  We still must wonder what makes them think it is unnecessary now, though.  Do you think it could possibly … just maybe … have something to do with the fact that this is an election year?  As one concerned citizen put it, “The reason is “political”. Democrats who control California want to be reelected in the Fall. Hush! Keep it quiet. Maybe the voters won’t realize that they’ll be sucking water from rocks after the election and Sacramento cuts off their water to help fish in the Pacific Ocean.” 

water1As I stated at the beginning, water is one of our most precious resources.  Without water to drink, we will die.  California and much of the west has a serious problem, one that is not likely to be resolved any time soon.  783 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water (United Nations – 2013).  Can California really afford to lift the restrictions now?  Will they be forced to re-instate them almost immediately after the November elections?  Is this a political move?  And last, but not least, can people really be so shallow as to believe that watering their lawn daily outranks the need for water for everyone to drink, wash dishes and clothes, and bathe?  Think about it.