Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Easy Ways to Conserve Water

Water conservation is not something cruisers take lightly...  

Many of us have a very limited supply of water (our tank holds 60 gallons) and wasting water (yes, even if you have a watermaker) is frowned upon out here.  Gone are the days of the thirty minute shower (though, truth be told, I never understood what people were doing in there that long anyway...) and baths (oh, how I did love a bath!) are a thing of the past.  We don't begrudge it though - in fact, being more aware of the resources we use is bringing us closer to nature.  Did you know that there is a world-wide water crisis?  That over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and even more have no access to proper sanitation?  It's mind boggling what those of us in the "first world" take for granted.
"There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people - and the environment - suffer badly." World Water Vision Report
In other words, we "haves" are very wasteful.

This is no bueno.
Top 10 Ways To Conserve Water On A Boat:
  1. Use foot or hand pump when possible - every sink in our boat is equipped with a manual hand pump.  Hand/foot pumps use significantly less water than pressurized pumps (foot pumps are ideal and preferred, as you are "hands free").  BONUS TIP:  Outfitting your boat with at least one manual pump that brings in seawater is ideal - especially in the galley - as you can use it to wash the dishes (this is a 'future' Rasmus project), brining me to #2...
  2. Use salt water to do dishes - we do all our dishes in salt water (no, none of our pots have rusted).  We plug up the sink, fill a bucket from the sea and fill the sink with saltwater.  Non-ultra Joy dish soap works great in salt water and we save ourselves gallons of fresh water over time. BONUS TIP:  On the rare occasions you wash with fresh water and use regular dish soap, like Dawn, mix the soap in a small dispenser with 1/2 soap, 1/2 water - that way it takes much less water to wash and rinse!
  3. Use a spray bottle to rinse dishes - a tiny bit of water actually goes a very long way and after washing in salt water, have a spray bottle of fresh water available to rinse.  A few squirts and voila - dishes are salt-free and clean!
  4. Bathe in salt water, rinse in fresh - don't knock it till you try it!  There is nothing like a bath in the ocean!  Jump in the water - scrub and suds up with soap and shampoo - jump back in the water - get out of the water - rinse with fresh.  I promise you, after you are all dry it feels no different or less clean than a "real" shower and again, you have saved a ton of fresh water.  We have an aft deck shower to rinse, but if you don't - consider getting  a Sun Shower, they work great and again, use very little water.
  5. Collect rain water and/or wash the boat in a squall - while we haven't developed a great rain catchment solution on Rasmus, we do leave our buckets on deck to collect rain water.  This water is great for plants, for rinsing dishes, and for filling your tanks when you are far enough offshore to be free from pollutants.  Washing your boat during a squall is great as well.  Put on your bikini, get the deck brush and some soap and get to work! I do it all the time!
  6. Outfit all faucets with a hands free instant off device - While we don't have this product, we have seen it before and almost bought it but didn't because we weren't sure it would work.  After seeing how pleased our friends on s/v Sarabande are with theirs, we plan to get some ASAP.  Can save you a tremendous amount of water over time!
  7. Save cooking water to do dishes after - when you boil a pot of pasta, don't throw out that water!! Save it for later to wash dishes with!
  8. Use a whistling tea kettle - this way, you'll know right away when the water is boiling and you won't waste water by way of evaporation.  BONUS TIP: In addition - cook with less water.  More often than not the directions tell us we need more water than we do!
  9. Use a half-gallon garden sprayer for on-deck rinsing - you can get these from any hardware store and they are great at making a little water go a long way.  Great for an anchor wash down (or, if you have a salt water rinse up on deck - even better!), or a quick deck rinse and more.  Doing a light rinse with freshwater will do a salty boat good!
  10. Flush toilets with salt water - flushing toilets with fresh water, especially on a boat, is incredibly wasteful.  Salt water works just as well and there are many very easy ways to avoid the calcification that occurs when urine and salt water meet, such as doing weekly flushes with vinegar.  What comes from the sea shall return to the sea anyway, right?
So there you have it!  While most of these apply to living on a boat, I challenge you landlubbers to be a little more thoughtful about your water consumption as well!  In fact, here are 100 Tips, just for you!

Anyone else have any great water conservation tips that I missed?

Brittany & Scott


    QuestToSail said...

    I had the experience of “living” the necessity of water conservation while bare-boating in the BVIs with my family this summer (no disrespect intended for those of you who actually “live” in that reality). It was an eye opener and made me realize how wasteful I have been in my life on land … so I brought the mindset home. Unintended benefit … my water bill dropped by 23%. You highlight a real world issue - Great post!

    Paula said...

    What a great and useful post! There are so many little ways to benefit yourself and benefit the world at the same time, people!

    Andy said...

    I understand from various forums that using seawater in toilets leads to bad smells.

    Have you been doing this for a while or just started?

    What is your experience with smells?

    Windtraveler said...

    @Andy - we have had ZERO issue with any smells - but we flush our head thoroughly and do a vinegar flush weekly and other products to keep it very clean. A holding tank will smell no matter what, but as far as our head goes - it smells fresh and clean, always!

    Mid-Life Cruising! said...

    Another great post! Thanks for sharing such great ideas. I've always shut the water off when brushing my teeth. Now that we'll be living on a boat, I need to "train" my husband! Did you find the sea water clean enough to wash in on a regular basis while heading South from the Bahamas?

    Windtraveler said...

    @ MLC - if we were in a marina or a place where the water was gross or questionable - we didn't clean with it. You have to use your discretion - but in almost all anchorages, the water was fine to do the initial clean with.

    Environmental Training said...

    Nice list of ways to conserve water. Not really familiar though because I haven't tried to live like you guys. Anyways, great post!

    Anonymous said...

    I am curious if the soap is bad for the ocean at all. Was this a concern that you thought of when buying your soap?

    Troy Flores said...

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    Abir said...


    Danny said...

    Scarcity of water can make your bath time really disaster. You need to use the water more precisely. You can use several types of accessories to make a relaxing bath. You can use bath board, bath chair, bath lift, shampoo rings, etc.

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