I wrote this to Governor Brown’s office today. It sounds simplistic, but I think it would work.
- GP Dave
Firstly, I am a big fan of yours and I thank you for all that you have done for our great State.
I have a water conservation suggestion: why don’t you just have the utilities and/or local water works lower the water pressure available to homes by 10-20%. It sounds simplistic, but I’ve noticed that people waste a lot of water by turning it on full blast while washing their hands, cleaning dishes, taking showers, etc., and this is especially true of people who turn the shower on full blast and wait till it gets hot before jumping in. People don’t need such fast moving water to get these chores done and faster moving water = more going down the drain and not utilized during the task at hand. I bet a lot of people wouldn’t even notice, and it wouldn’t have an impact on cleanliness, etc. In these drought times, people can wait a bit longer and think about what they’re using while they fill that pail of water or wash their car. Please give it some consideration.
San Mateo, CA
Here are a few ways I try to minimize my water use:
1. As in the previous post: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”. Even in non-drought times.
2. If I drink a glass of water at home and don’t finish it, I pour the remainder into one of the house plants rather than pour it down the drain.
3. When eating at a restaurant, I ask them not to top off my water if I’m not going to finish it.
4. I will never live in a house with a lawn that has to be mowed and watered. Ever.
5. We only run the dishwasher when it is completely full.
6. I still take navy showers (see earlier post on what that means). And I do it everywhere: the gym, hotels, etc.
7. We are conidering keeping a bucket in the shower to capture and reuse the water that is otherwise lost down the drain.
8. When washing anything by hand, I turn the water on only enough to lather, then again to rinse.
9. Anyone who keeps the water running full blast when shaving, brushing their teeth, or otherwise washing anything is irresponsible in their water wastage. Period.
Help us us save the our most precious resource. Anyone with additional easy-to-implement ideas are welcome to share.
Here in California we are in the depths of the worst drought since the 70′s. So my wife and I have adopted the practice made famous from those days: “if it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down”. Self-explanatory, we have found it an exceedingly way to conserve water during these dry times. Depending on how much water your toilet uses, you can expect to save at least 3 gallons per flush, and over a gallon even on a newer low-flow toilet. To think that I flushed *every* time makes me realize just how much water I was wasting.
This is routine has become so habitual, I plan to keep doing it indefinitely, even if the drought is declared over. Truth is, here in California we are never more than a dry winter away from impending drought, so why not? If my fellow Californians do not follow suit, permanent water rations my someday follow. And that someday may be soon.
- GP Dave
I was surprised to find that there are a number of web pages out there suggesting that using your garbage disposal to dispose of food scraps is actually preferable to throwing them away. It turns out that food that goes into a landfill without exposure to the sun ends up rotting underground and forms a buildup of methane gas, which is supposedly a powerful greenhouse gas. Food that is washed down the disposal is supposedly eventually processed by the sewer treatment plant, allowing anaerobic breakdown of the organic matter, which results in biomatter for fertilizer and biogas, which in some cases is used to power the plant itself.
Here is an excellent website describing the process: http://www.good.is/posts/a-surprising-food-waste-solution-your-garbage-disposal
Of course, the very best action would be to limit the amount of food waste as much as possible. Eliminating it completely is impossible, but the next best thing would be to compost it. For the very last bits of food waste that are not caught to compost, the garbage disposal is not so bad, given that it was originally designed for convenience and to prevent people from clogging their sink plumbing. Anything is better than just throwing food waste in the garbage, unless you happen to live in an arid area in which the water required to dispose and treat the food waste cannot be spared.
- GP Dave
Though we try to use Caltrain as much as we can, trains run only once an hour at best and the agency itself is always close to financial insolvency. But this presents a vicious circle: the less feasible and useful mass transportation is, the less people will use it. And the less they use it, the less feasible it becomes.
At this point, I believe that to give Caltrain and other forms of mass transit a boost– and get people out of their cars– the only way is to get our legislators to give more funding to mass transport projects in the bay area.
I believe that with our aging population we are running up on a potential crisis if we don’t start acting now. For most people in the suburbs, getting around and having a quality life is totally dependent on driving in their car. What will happen to all of these seniors when they can no longer drive? Will they end up being stuck in their own homes?
Personally, when I get old I want to have a San Francisco Bay Area in which I will be able to get around without having to drive. Western Europeans have done it, and so has Japan and much of Asia. We won’t get rid of automobiles anytime soon, but the time is now to start getting off our complete dependency on cars. Rather than spending all that money on building more roads for more cars, we should extend Caltrain and accelerate BART extension projects, increase trains schedules, build more stations, create better and more interagency transfer points, and generally promote ridership. We should start doing this before we are forced to do it. I think that our continued economic viability will eventually depend on it.
- GP Dave
… well, don’t recycle it if you can donate it. The Peninsula Humane Society accepts newspaper as a donation. They use it to line the cages of a number of the animals they keep there.
Check your local shelter’s wish list before going down there. Last time I checked, Oakland Animal Services did not have newspaper as one of their wish list items.
- GP Dave
In David Owen’s excellent article “It’s Too Easy Being Green“, he makes some great points and points out an eye-opening fact:
“Flying from New York to Melbourne in 1958, on a propeller plane, consumed more energy per person than my 2010 flight did, but it was “greener” nevertheless. It required stops in San Francisco, Hawaii, Canton Island, Fiji and Sydney, and it cost each coach passenger something like a quarter of that year’s U.S. median family income, each way.”
We are all Greenwashers in a way, especially if you’re one of the over quarter billion Americans on the planet right now. Personally speaking, I am aware of the fact that my having a long car-based commute, a fishtank, two house cats, and an espresso maker (among other things) are all modes of consumption that are inessential and not best for the environment. But, as Owens also points out, if we really wanted to be green and not just greenwashed, we would forgo all these things and stop flying altogether. “But where is the fun in going nowhere” or having nothing?
With a world population of almost 7 billion people and growing, something’s going to have to give, and we may someday see the return of transcontinental flights being only for the rich and privileged. Maybe that won’t be such a bad thing; but at this rate, I don’t think that we’ll have much choice in the matter.