This post is partially about shifting a habit so that I drink a reasonable amount of water in a day. And partially about shifting habits in an effort to conserve water.
The two ventures can seem at odds. I’m supposed to be saving fresh water at the same time I’m supposed to be recklessly guzzling it? But the truth is that many of us waste the water that we should be drinking.
Some of these shifts are terribly obvious and no doubt some of you have been implementing them—without even trying—for the whole of your lifetime. But I think a gentle reminder could do us all some good. And no doubt there will be things I haven’t thought of. Share! Here goes:
A few ideas to get yourself to drink more water:
Get an insulated water bottle. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. Being able to drink cool water at any time of day has made me double my water intake on a daily basis. (Don’t be too impressed: I’m still not always close to the recommended 8 cups a day, but I am heading there.) Anything will do, but I’m very much partial to my 12-ounce wide-mouth Klean Kanteen, which feels like a manageable size for carrying around and can easily fit ice cubes if I want my water to be extra chilly.
Make it tasty: On days when I’m feeling ornery, I declare that pretty herbal waters are a thing invented by the internet to make people feel slovenly for drink plain old water. On days when I’m feeling optimistic, I declare that people have been making plain old water more palatable for eons by sticking crap in it, and bonus: it’s pretty. I’ve been using a glass pitcher similar to this one and keeping it filled with so-called pretty water since we returned from France. (Note: We’ve been using 1.5 liter mason jars to keep water cool and filtered in the fridge for years, but one recently broke and I’ve loved having a handle to grab onto.) On rotation this week: cucumber, lemon, and thyme. It makes every glass of water refreshing. (Faye’s delighted that I seem to enjoy “pickle” water so very much.)
Schedule it: Killjoy times twelve, I know. But I find that having even a loose idea of when to drink water makes me more likely to follow through with actually drinking it. I’ll never be a drink-a-tall-glass-of-water-first-thing-in-the-morning kind of hero. (If I’m being frank, water first thing in the morning makes me want to gag.) But I’ve made a loose schedule nonetheless: drink a glass before I leave the house in the morning, finish another before lunchtime, drink another with lunch, another in the afternoon, one at dinner, and a keep a tall glass next to my bed while I read in the evening. Like I said, I’m not breaking any records, but I am staying far more hydrated than I would otherwise.
A few ideas to save water:
Stop taking (so many) long showers: Well, duh. We let a lot of water pour down the drain and so we’d all do well to stick to a more rigid time limit when washing off. I’m a morning shower person, but if I’m feeling sweaty and gross at the end of the day—and who isn’t?—I wash up with a wash cloth and a quick feet wash in the sink and call myself fresh. Bonus: You can keep a bucket in the shower to catch water that would otherwise go down the drain and use it to flush your toilet.
Turn off the tap while you brush: It’s the first thing you learn in elementary school, but I feel like by adulthood a lot of people forget even the most basic measures. In a semi-related habit shift, I’m on a kick of making sure I brush my teeth for a full two-minutes every time, which means that I usually amble around the apartment to pass the time while I brush. (Two minutes is a long time!). I’d never think of leaving the faucet on when I leave the bathroom. A quirky trick, perhaps, but maybe a little teeth brushing amble would do us all good, in more ways than one!
Fill ‘er up: Whether you hand wash your dishes or load them in the dishwasher, repeat the mantra fill ‘er up. Fill up the sink with sudsy water instead of letting the faucet run when you hand wash and make sure you fill the dishwasher all the way up before you run it.
Let it mellow: I hate that expression, but I actually thought a bit about this as we were potty training Faye: Do we really need to teach our kid to flush the toilet after she puts a few teaspoons of pee into it? Eh…I don’t think so. I have a pretty ingrained muscle memory to flush the toilet immediately, but we’re making an effort to flush less frequently during the day (a huge water savings, especially when you’re so busy drinking so much water…see above.) (PS. We’ve also recently sunk a bottle full of water into our ancient toilet tank…water displaced by the bottle means water that doesn’t go down the drain. More details on how to do it, right here!)
Call your super: Or flex your muscles and do it yourself, but if you have a leaky faucet or a drippy toilet, or anything else in your home that’s wasting water, take the few minutes to call someone to get it fixed. A dripping sink faucet can seem like small potatoes in the face of drought, but every drop of water saved makes a difference.
There are lots of other ideas for saving water—installing gray water systems! planting drought-friendly gardens instead of lawns!—but these are some simple things but I’ve been able to incorporate fairly seamlessly into city living. What about you? How do you guys approach water drinking/conserving?
More habit shifts right here.