Less water for Lent

February 27, 2008

Some churches in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area are doing something they call “Less oil for Lent,” taking steps together to reduce their daily use of fossil fuels. (click here for more info)

Although we’re already well into the season, as a follow up to Sunday’s sermon and worship theme I wanted to offer some suggestions for “Less water for Lent.” Rather than fasting from food, perhaps your household is interested in experimenting with ways of reducing water useage, even if it is just for a season. Any kind of intentional self-limitation can be a way of opening our spirits to the Greater Spirit at work in the world. In the case of water it can bring about a greater awareness of the resources we depend on daily, gratitude for clean water, a sense of solidarity with the 1.1 billion people worldwide who have no access to clean water, a host of questions about how our consuming habits relate with our faith, and lower water bills! I find it more enlivening to enter such experiences with a spirit of discovery, experiment, and camaraderie, rather than the drudgery and isolation often associated with fasting.

So, if your household would like to experiment with this – now during Lent and perhaps beyond – there are plenty of practical suggestions out there for ways to do it. I’m only including a few here, but am also including some links to websites that provide much more extensive suggestions that range from the simple to the more hardcore. Here’s a sampling:

    — Designate one glass for your drinking water each day. This will cut down on the number of times you run your dishwasher.

    — If your toilet was installed prior to 1980, place a quart jar or bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to cut down on the amount of water used for each flush. Be sure these devices do not interfere with operating parts.

    — Verify that your home is leak free. Many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

    — Don’t let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.

    — Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.

    — In the shower, turn water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair.

    — Try saving and reusing “greywater,” waste water from sinks or laundry. An example of this is to save greywater from a bathroom sink by unfastening your waste plumbing below the sink and replacing with a bucket to catch the water. When there is sufficient water in the bucket it can be dumped into the toilet bowl (not tank) as a way of flushing the toilet. Abbie and I are experimenting with this one, so if anyone has questions just let us know. Greywater can also be used to water indoor and outdoor plants.

    — On Sunday Jeanne Bye shared about her practice of saving water for washing clothes. Here is a paragraph from her about how she does it:

How to conserve water while building upper-body strength (It’s not just for frugal Mennonite grandmas!) If you aren’t lucky enough to own a suds-saving washer, the process of re-using wash water must be done manually. The process also requires a certain level of vigilance, unless you enjoy regularly swabbing down your basement or laundry room floor. This is how I do it. First, sort the laundry. Start with whites, and do progressively darker loads. By the time you’ve done about 3 loads the water will look pretty gray (or blue or green or pink) because of the dye that comes out of the clothes, but as long as the next load is darker it doesn’t matter. Save your muddy jeans and bathroom rugs (dark ones!) for the last load. Obtain a large tub (big plastic bins or garbage cans work) and position the drain hose from the washer so that the water from the wash cycle runs into the tub. After the wash cycle, put the hose back into the drain pipe and let the rinse water drain away. (Or save it in another tub and water the flowers.) This is where the vigilance comes in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten distracted, forgotten to switch the hose over, and flooded my basement. The up side is that I have a nice clean basement floor. Now for the upper-body workout. For the next load, add a little detergent to the washer to make up for what went down the drain in the rinse cycle, add the clothes, and use a bucket to dip the saved water back into the washer. Reposition the hose to empty into the tub, turn on the washer, and repeat as desired.

Here are three websites with more water saving tips:




After the service Sunday Steve Hitt told me about a pretty exciting product P&G has come up with that is being used around the world to help poor communities purify their water. You can read and watch a video on this at www.givepurwater.org

If you’d like, feel free to leave comments here on the blog about a water saving experiment you are trying, other water saving suggestions, your thoughts on how we use our resources, etc. (If comment box is not visible, click on “Comment” or “No Comments” at the end of this entry. Or click on “Less water for Lent” at the top of the right column under “Recent Posts” and look for the comment box after the entry).

One final link! If you’d like to see the pictures that Jeanne and Matt displayed during children’s story, go to http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php

Happy water saving!!


3 Responses to “Less water for Lent”

  1. Hester Bender Says:

    I live in a rural area of Texas where we rarely get enough rain. Often our rain comes all at
    once and the run off is saved in our “tanks” ponds for animal use or irrigation. All my house grey water drains outside into flower beds. The pipe shows and I am sure some folks wonder if I have a septic system, which I do. However, my daily water saving trick is to fill plastic gallon jugs with water while waiting for water to be hot enough for a shower or any other purpose. By the time I fill one jug, my water is hot. This is clean water that can be used for any purpose. Water becomes very precious when it is scarce or expensive!

  2. welda Says:

    October 7, 2008, Follow up on “Less water for Lent” or, just “Less water,” I’m still doing most all of the list and some not on the list. I have an instanteous hot water heater. It takes a volume of water before hot water gets to the sink. I fill a pan and transfer the cold water to a springling can then put this in the toilet tank after flushing. Also, in this dry weather I put water around the building foundation and water any surviving flowers. I put a container in the bathroom sink to catch the water I use to wet my hands. With the faucet off, I soap hands then rinse with water in container and some added running water. Then, the container is emptied into the toilet tank. Many more.

  3. Thanks to Pastor Joel and Jeanne for the water-saving tips. Another easy and inexpensive way to conserve water is to install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. Both mix air with the water, reducing the water usage by about half. Connie

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