How to Conserve Water

Copyright 1992 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

Back in 1992, Seattle had a water shortage and the paper was filled with various articles, all of which seemed to quote "Yellow is mellow, but brown is down." I got sick of the articles and wrote this.

Seattle's latest water shortage has flooded us with tips on how to use less water. All the tips have one thing in common: they assume that saving water is an alien concept. As if we have all been daily filling our swimming pools when we're not busy flooding our backyard rice paddies.

Well, I, for one, have been conserving water for years. I never thought of it as conserving water, of course. I thought I was just being lazy. Reading the list of conservation tips is a ringing endorsement of my lifestyle.

For example, I'm not supposed to wash my car, because car washing uses too much water.

Wash my car? The last time I washed my car, a Democrat was in the White House. Since then, the closest I come to washing my car is driving it in the rain. What's the point? A clean car doesn't run any better than a dirty car. And a dirty car might discourage car thieves. ``Yuck! Let's not steal that dirty car, let's take this nice, clean Porsche over here!''

There are always many conservation tips about washing dishes: don't do it too often, don't let the water run when you do, always run a full load in your dishwasher. Shoot! This is all second nature to me!

Of course I don't wash them too often--and anything more than once a month is too often. How is this possible? Well, for starters, I only wash them when I need to. If I eat everything on my plate, what's to wash? A little strategic mopping up with a piece of bread and the plate's ready for another meal. Easy, simple, lazy.

I also minimize the number of pots I use by getting the most out of each one. Suppose I'm fixing spaghetti. After I finish boiling and draining the noodles, I throw the noodles back into the pot along with the spaghetti sauce. Put a couple of slices of garlic bread on top, pop the whole thing into the oven and I have an entire meal in one dish! And, after polishing off the main course, I can eat some ice cream from the carton for dessert.

I'm also not supposed to water my lawn. They say the Water Police will be nosing around with moisture-meters to make sure that I'm not wasting precious fluids on plants. (By the way, are the Water Police armed with water pistols?) Well, I have nothing to fear from the Water Police, or the Sprinkler Sheriffs.

I have been trying very hard for the last two years to kill every blade of grass in my yard. I would be delighted with a brown, dead lawn. Then I wouldn't have to mow it. Spray paint it green in the spring, maybe, but no mowing. But each year, my lawn persists in surviving. If it were possible, I'd siphon water out of my lawn and sell it to my neighbors.

Every spring, I go out and have this conversation with my lawn: "Okay, grass, listen up! You ever heard of Darwin? Well, it's survival of the fittest time! If you need my help to survive, you're out of here! You get no water, no fertilizer, and at irregular times I'll bring the mower out here and cut your heads off. Any questions?"

Another thing that uses massive amounts of water is exercising. When I exercise I get thirsty and I sweat. Obviously, when I'm thirsty I'm going to drink more water. And when I sweat, not only do I have to take a shower (wasted water), but I also end up with clothes that are not aromatically suited to wearing in closed spaces (such as the Kingdome). This means that I have to wash these clothes, which uses even more water.

On the other hand, lying on the couch watching television consumes a minimal amount of energy and doesn't make me thirsty (unless I eat popcorn). I can also wear the same clothes for weeks at a time!

Water conservation is easy. Instead of worrying about what to do, I concentrate on what not to do. And not doing will do more than doing, if it's done properly.

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Copyright 1992 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.