Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Carbon Diet -Thinking About Water

We're almost finished with the Slate Carbon Diet challenge. Most people are already done, but I started late. This week, we're supposed to focus on water. Saving water prevents waste and pollution; conserving hot water means fewer carbon emissions. I feel duplicitous even talking about this. I use bubble baths as therapy. At this moment, the washer, the dishwasher, and the shower are in use. We use a lot of water around here. Even when it's just me, I go through quite a bit of water.

Perhaps the re-frame of this is that there's lots of room for improvement. Yeah, that's it. Insert eyeroll right there! Here are the things I pledged to do:

  • install a low-flow showerhead
  • boil only as much water as I need for coffee, rather than a full kettle each time
  • run the dishwasher only when it's full
  • insulate the hot water heater (which is already done,actually)

I can't look anyone in the eye and promise to keep my showers to under ten minutes. And there's some household reason I don't understand for why we can't reduce the temperature of the hot water to below 120. And we've tried the tankless hot water heater. At least with the technology that was then available, it did very depressing things to the water pressure. So I didn't promise to do that either.

The good news is that the dishwasher actually uses fewer gallons of hot water than washing the dishes by hand. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that my laziness is being rewarded here, because I have no intention of washing dishes by hand!

And then there are the things they didn't ask about... like the drip under the kitchen sink. I promise I'll get someone (else) to fix that this week. But I'm not yet willing to confront the fact that on most days I take a shower in the morning and a bath at night. And if I work out hard in the middle of the day, sometimes there's a second shower in there. The only negotiable in that array is the nightly bubble bath.... and it's not really negotiable, as it turns out.

So, I'm a bit of a wuss in the carbon reduction department this week. I'm discovering a belief or a bias (or some such thing) that I want to do environmental and other cause-y things, true enough. What I don't want to do is create a life that feels austere and ascetic and minimized by the changes I've made. I'm willing to do difficult things (sometimes.... sporadically), but I don't want to create a joyless, cramped life in the process. So harmless pleasures such as bubble baths have to stay.

I hope that's reasonable rather than merely self-indulgent.


Michael said...

Therapeutic baths don't count. I've just made an executive decision, and I'm sticking to it!

However, if you feel a little guilty over that indulgence, this may help. A friend of mine, who has to deal with a private water company that charges astronomical rates, catches all the water she runs waiting for it to warm up in old milk jugs and uses that to water her plants with.

Andrea Rusin said...

There's always the "save water; shower with a friend" strategy ;)