Water Conservation: Some Thoughts for Earth Day

ecause I completely missed the commemoration of World Water Day back on March 22, 2015, I thought that I would share some thoughts on the conservation of water on Earth Day instead, as I think about — and practice — water conservation all year long…

…especially when summer arrives, as that is usually when drought conditions are most likely to occur.

Being based in the Atlanta area, there has long been battles between the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida as to who has rights to the water from the rivers known as the Chattahoochee and Flint north of the state line between Florida and Georgia; and the Apalachicola River south of that border…

…and yet I think about how companies can conserve water without affecting their customers — particularly, hotel properties without affecting guests.

Please allow me to indulge in expressing some ideas without concern for potential hinderances for a moment.

Condensation From Air Conditioning Units of Hotel and Resort Properties

Imagine if hotel properties had a way of taking the condensation from all of the air conditioning units with which they are equipped and using it for toilets, for example. On a hot and humid summer day in the Atlanta area, the air conditioning in my home can yield as much as ten gallons of water per day.

You read that correctly: ten gallons of water per day.

I collect that water each day and use it for a variety of non-potable purposes — such as watering non-edible plants, for example.

I can only imagine how much water the combined air conditioning of a hotel property produces each day…

…and yes, I do realize that a hotel property in places with low humidity such as Las Vegas or Phoenix will produce significantly less water with its air conditioning than a hotel property in New Orleans or Miami.

Rain Water: Saving and Using It

Water is collected from rainfall with a couple of plastic tubs outside of my home; although rain barrels can also certainly be used. This water is collected in jugs and used on outdoor plants which do not produce edible fruits or vegetables.

Imagine if hotel and resort properties which currently use tap water for irrigation similarly collected rain water to use on outdoor landscaping instead.

Saving Water in Preparing Hot Showers

I cannot think how the following idea will not affect hotel guests; but when the weather is cold outside, I use clean plastic water jugs to collect water from the bathtub or shower faucets in my home until it reaches a warm temperature. This usually yields two to three gallons of drinking water per day for one shower; and I use that water for purposes such as for drinking or for boiling with food. I do realize that I can purchase and install an instant hot water tank; but that involves hundreds of dollars from which a return on investment will not be seen for years — if at all.

Shower Immediately After Someone Else

If there is more than one person sharing a hotel room, consider taking a shower after someone else has just finished; or take the first shower before someone else does. This way, you will not have to run more water to warm up the shower.

Water Saving While Shaving

Whenever I shave — whether in a hotel bathroom or at home — I only run the water when I need to clean my razor and wash whatever shaving cream is left on my face and hands. Imagine how many gallons of fresh water would be saved if everyone else who shaved did this simple action.

Re-Use Linens and Clothing

Many hotel and resort properties now offer ways to conserve water — the most common of which is to re-use towels, bed sheets and pillow cases simply by leaving them in a way designated by management of the hotel or resort property.

Back on November 15, 2009, I reported in this article on how some lodging companies offered incentives if you declined housekeeping services. For example, at one Starwood Preferred Guest hotel property in Seattle, you were able to earn either a gift card per day worth five United States dollars to the hotel restaurant or 500 Starpoints per day simply for declining daily housekeeping.

Because my hotel stays are usually no greater than one or two days, I do not know if any lodging companies still offer incentives to decline housekeeping — although the program still appears to exist in some form at Starwood Hotels and Resorts worldwide, according to this discussion posted on FlyerTalk.

Also consider bringing fewer clothes with you when you travel. It is not a crime if you wore the same shirt or blouse twice during a trip instead of once. If you are able to do this throughout your trip with all of the your clothes, this means saving water on washing them — not to mention carrying half as much clothing with you on the trip.

Summary

I estimate that I conservatively save approximately 2,000 gallons of water per year just with these ideas. It boggles my mind to think about how much water could be saved — and used for non-potable purposes — if buildings such as hotel properties and restaurants all over the world could use the condensation from their air conditioning for purposes such as flushing water and hydrating plants; and if individuals could employ even only one or two of the aforementioned ideas.

I know, I know: these are “pipe” dreams, as extra plumbing, control valves and other items would be needed to have my ideas become more prevalent; and the expense and effort would most likely outweigh the perceived advantages. However, I would not be surprised if some companies already practice maximizing fresh drinking water conservation.

It is sad that seemingly too many people take fresh drinking water for granted and ultimately waste at least some of it — perhaps without even realizing it. It is a scary thought to imagine having no more fresh drinking water freely flowing from the tap because the reservoirs became dry. If ideas pertaining to conserving water were used more often, perhaps we would be more successful in staving off drought…

…and even the most minor efforts of water conservation by all of us can be collectively significant. After all, fresh drinking water is a finite resource we simply cannot take for granted.

One thought on “Water Conservation: Some Thoughts for Earth Day”

  1. Graydon says:

    Awesome list Brian. I am guilty of a few of these and will consider changing my habits. In Florida it’s about time for our summer showers to start. Still not sold on rain water collection but if I added gutters I think I could add a cistern and a pump. High cost but I think it would pay for itself over my usage time.

    I do a couple of your suggestions and it’s a win. My condenser outflow is routed from under my house to a flower garden. I live on a small hill so gravity helps. Pipe has drilled holes for dispensing the water across an area and works pretty well. My A/C guy is not too happy about it so I added a small clean out trap so he can check it and make sure it’s open and not backing up.

    I also installed an instant on water heater about 6 years ago. I’ll never look back as it’s that good. Uses a little less electric as far as I can tell but the maintenance is zero and the water usage dropped quite a bit. I feel it’s paid for itself over 6 years and I have plans to add a couple smaller more efficient units, one in kitchen and one in bathroom and retire this unit to my business. If you own and plan on staying more than 4-5 years spend the money.

    Oh if the water flows from Georgia into Florida all on it’s own then it’s fair game 😉

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