Going Green

Chris took this picture in the newest building up at OHSU:

Bathroom Sign

It’s in one of those Green Buildings that I think are amazing. I guess it rescues, treats and recycles water on-site which allows it to use less than half of the amount of water that a conventional building it’s size would use and it flushes less than 300 gallons of water per day! Makes you stop and think how much water do you really need in your daily living and how much of it can you recycle…

So I looked up our water usage after hearing this and saw that in the Spring of this year, we used an average 176 gallons/day. Our water usage was rated “Poor” and that we need to learn to conserve. Well of course, I came up with excuses right away: we’re a family of 5!, we’re home all the time, I take care of other kids too!, we use cloth diapers that need to be washed all the time, etc, etc, etc… But in fact, I know we can improve by: turning the water off when brushing teeth, shortening shower time, putting away clothes instead of just tossing it into the laundry, hand washing more dishes,- oh, I could go on and on. (By the way, “excellent” is less than 80 gallons/day.) So, I’ve been reading and getting some great ideas and facts from this blog so hop on over and read a little please.

Here’s some other facts I’ve learned:
It takes 66 gallons of water to make one liter of Coke.
It takes 49 gallons of water to make one glass of milk.
A single serving of steak? 2,600 gallons!
And lastly, before you purchase that next bottled water, just think that it costs 10,000 times more than tap and it’s not any healthier.

And since I’m on the subject, have you switched to green power yet? Ever since that Enron thing, Chris has had bad, no make that very bad thoughts about power companies and has been very tentative to do anything with them. We finally made the plunge last month and it was made a little easier for him since we were guaranteed a price freeze for a number of years. I think we’re one of the last to switch over, but I feel a little better about the whole thing. Now, if I can only remember to not use as much– that would be the ultimate goal.


3 responses to this post.

  1. You are so devout. It makes me want to do better, be better.

    Missed you Saturday. We met several of their lovely neighbors there (before anyone in our crew arrived.) Hope you had a great weekend.


  2. We love our green energy company (in TX)…but most of the people who own the power companies are the big money people in green energy too (lots of the big oil guys/companies). They know the gravy train will someday end and are buying into it big time.

    Still I feel much better about supporting more sustainable energy.


  3. Long post:
    I am glad you are growing more concerned about preserving natural resourses. We all are consumers and that sounds OK until we realize that the basic meaning of the word is “to destroy or expend by use.” First of all, washing dishes in the dishwasher is far more effecient than washing by hand. According to one sourse, the Canadian Office of Energy Effeciency, “Rinsing dishes under the tap also wastes a lot of water. Rinse your dishes in a large bowl of water, or partially fill one side of a double sink. Here’s another approach: slowly pour a bowl of water over dishes after putting them in the drainer.

    If you wash your dishes by hand, you use more water and energy than if you use an automatic dishwasher.” And remember energy consumption necessary to heat the water. http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/new-homes/water-conservation.cfm?attr=4

    We purchased a great front loading Kenmore Elite (other good brands are available) washer and dryer about 5 years ago. I noticed the difference in water consumption immediately as the washer uses a third of the water necessary for an agitator style. I even prewash and add a second rinse. Most of these new machines are very smart and you can load the machine, tell it what to do and walk away; it will let you know when it is finished.

    Something else you can do to help your environment is to check your department of public works regarding their recycling center. These recycling centers can help keep your property taxes down because the city, by selling the materials you would send to the land fill, has enough income to help with city operations. There are two recycle centers within 10 minutes or our house, one is run by our small city government, and the other is a commercial enterprise. Both are good, but we use the local operation. To date they accept all paper, cardboard, green, brown and clear glass, and tin, alumuminium and #1/#2 plastic. There is also a big container for large metal items. We just keep all containers in one corner of the kitchen–it is only a matter of which container we use, so it is very easy. Our trash bag is very small. Once a month we drop everything off at the recycle center. We see lots of kids helping their parents with the task.

    Summer is hot, so insulate (only $400 10 years ago to have insulation blown in as there was practically none when we bought the house), then cool at night (it makes for better sleeping), then turn the thermostat up during the day. The house will stay cool all day, warming up a bit in the afternoon. We have also changed many of our light bulbs to compact flouresent bulbs. CF bulbs use much less electricity and produce less heat. We have dimmers on some of our track lighting.

    Sounds like we are fanatics, but we live in a 2,200sf brick ranch in Goodlettsville, TN and in spite of the heat and during this time of drought we have credits on electric, water and gas bills.


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