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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Buckets

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Originally published February 27, 2009

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

If we don’t get enough rain this winter, I see buckets of trouble ahead. The severe water restrictions we might be facing could require a real hands-on approach to conserving water.

For instance, we may need to have a bucket in hand before heading to the shower, so we can save the excess water that would otherwise go down the drain. I know some people who are already doing it. They use the leftovers for watering houseplants and even outdoor plants if there hasn’t been rain recently.

I foresee some problem with buckets in the bathrooms at my house. It’s a square footage problem in the shower that my daughters share. With so many different bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and fruity-smelling body wash littering the floor of the shower, there’s not a square inch left for your foot, let alone a bucket.

I can envision greater success keeping a bucket in the kitchen, as some people are doing to save leftover water from cooking, or from washing pots and dishes by hand. It makes perfect sense, for example, to save the water used for boiling pasta to water the garden. Considering pasta is pretty much the nightly special at my house, I can see the water really piling up. (Probably I could keep my garden watered, as well as the gardens of all my neighbors up and down the street.)

But the challenge of having a bucket for water in the kitchen will be identifying it in the line-up of buckets, bags and containers already there for other kinds of conservation. In my kitchen, there’s a bucket for composting food waste and a bucket for dirty dishtowels and cloth napkins to be washed later. There are containers for recycling newspapers, magazines, cardboard, paper, metal cans, and plastic. There is a bag for old batteries and old fluorescent bulbs to dispose of them properly. These days, I find discarding things in the right receptacle in the kitchen requires as much concentration as slicing a little lemon with a big knife while trying to avoid my fingers.

Water conservation experts are also recommending we leave buckets or barrels at the bottom of downspouts around our house to collect water when it does rain. This is a good idea, unless you happen to have a 3-year-old running around as I do. Leaving a bucket of water in the backyard for your preschooler to find is like taking off for the weekend and leaving the keys to your Mazerati lying around for your 17-year-old son to find. You can bet there won’t be gas left in the car or water left in the bucket.

For the time being, I prefer not to think about buckets. Right now, my family and I are focusing on using the least amount of water we can: limiting time in showers, running only full laundry and dishwasher loads, and looking into low-flow faucet aerators for the whole house.

And we’re desperately hoping for more rain. Buckets and buckets of rain.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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