Energy Diet

The Complexities of Water

Water conservation is one of those measures that are near-to-invisible. We are privileged here in Canada to be able to turn on the tap and have fresh water at our ‘disposal’ – and yet, most of us at home do not really see or measure what we use & pour down the drain.

We are pretty conservative in our water use – only running the dishwasher when full to the brim (same goes for laundry), adults having showers rather than baths and when the kids bathe – all of them share the water. We already mentioned in our last blog that we have a policy like our Canadian cottage cousins do: If it’s yellow, let it mellow. We’ve also started to use our gray water in the past couple of years to water plants inside and out – this is water collected from the basement dehumidifier and the leftover water from boiling or drinking. This week, we’ve gone that one step further and installed rain water collection buckets at the down spouts from the eaves. (Rubbermaid bins as a temporary solution to an actual barrel designed for rain water collection)

Today, I even washed my grandmother’s car with a few buckets of water and biodegradable soap (using about 30 liters of water) rather than driving down to the automated car wash (which can use up to 45 gallons of water per car depending on the type of carwash).


We have been filtering our own drinking water with a Brita for nearly a decade and carry it with us in reusable containers when we’re out and about so that we never buy plastic water bottles. I’ve been thinking lately that I might also invest in a wash basin so that I can wash my face without using as much water as I do when the tap is running. I learned recently that for every minute that a tap is running, 6 liters of fresh water goes down the drain. Ugh.

The last hurdle will be re-thinking water use in my place of work. Typically, in a traditional funeral home, a stream of water runs for the entire embalming process, which can last anywhere between an hour to 6 or more. This is done to dilute the chemicals and body fluids that in turn are leaving the body. Not only does it seem to be a tremendous waste of water, but consider all the other environmental hazards that are going down the drain. I’m at a moral crossroads with this one. I am a strong advocate for simpler funeral customs that forego embalming where possible – especially so in a day and age where we have refrigeration for temporary preservation as well as more efficient means of travel for families to assemble in a timely way for the final farewell.


  1. Christina Nunez
    June 7, 2011, 11:08 am

    This is fascinating, Kory — I had no idea the embalming process used so much water.

  2. Chad Lipton
    June 10, 2011, 11:23 am

    Impressive water conservation efforts. I hear you about leaving the tap running. It is frustrating to think about how much water we waste. Most aerators (device allowing water to come out at the sink) in the US use 2.2 gallons per minute or 8.3 liters per minute. A low flow aerator saves more than half that and there is still plenty of water to brush teeth and shave. It has little noticeable effect. See: