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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dry Humps Challenge 2010

Dry Humps Challenge 2010Water Conservation Challenge
This water conservation challenge is not for the faint of heart. This is not a challenge where you switch from using plastic water bottles over to stainless steel bottles. It's not asking you to turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth. I'm not challenging you to do these things because I know you are already doing that and much more, right?

So, what is it already? Well, this challenge is requiring you to live on the same amount of water the average African uses.

Before I get started explaining what this means, here are a few water facts:

• Less than one percent of all the water on Earth is freshwater available for human consumption
• 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed in the United States per month
• An American taking a 5 minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day
• The average American household consumes about 127,400 gallons of water during a year

I know many of you are going to argue that you don't use that much water. And, the readers of this blog probably don't. But, let's do a daily comparison between American usage and African usage:

• The average American individual uses 100 - 176 gallons of water per day
• The average African family uses 5 gallons of water per day

I bet you use more than 5 gallons a day per person, let alone per family. The largest problem with water accessibility across the globe is cost (we spend considerably less on water than in other nations) and cleanliness.

We take for granted a tremendously important and necessary resource and literally flush it down the drain, pour it onto lawns and otherwise let it run dry. Most of the rest of the world doesn't have this luxury. The fact that we can just turn on the tap and have literally acre feet of clean, drinkable, cheap water is a pleasure few of us consider beyond our water bill.

So, here's the challenge. I'm going to let you cheat a little and have more water than your average African, but if you want to do 5 gallons per household, it's up to you. It's going to require you do a little bit of homework and a bunch of estimating to achieve this, but here goes:

What's the challenge?
During the weekend of June 12th - 13th you will use 5 gallons or less of water (that's per person per day). This includes all water used in bathing, cleaning, flushing, food preparation. Plus everything else you turn on the tap for.

Why should I do it?
To be a part of global water awareness and to protect our freshwater resources. Not only will you gain an appreciation for how little water the rest of the world depends on, but hopefully you'll also appreciate the fact that your water is cleaner, cheaper and easier to acquire than in the developing world.

Just think about accessibility: every day more than a billion people make a three-hour journey on foot just to collect water. As for cost, the average Honduran spends 25% of their income on drinking water. The average American spends .5 percent of his or her income on drinking water. [source]

And, just because water is cheap and easily accessible doesn't mean that we should use it extravagantly. Hopefully this challenge will help convince you to conserve water in the future not just from a resources perspective, but also from a financial one.

How do I prepare?
In preparation, you'll want to know (but it's not necessary if you don't use any of the following):

1. How many gallons of water your toilet flushes - alternatively, you can use waste water to flush the toilet by pouring it into the bowl to flush
2. How many gallons of water per minute your shower head puts out - alternatively, you can skip the showering and just wash the important parts using a cup for rinsing as a measurement
3. If you plan on doing laundry, see if you can find out how many gallons of water your washing machine uses. Otherwise, hand wash with your water allotment.
4. Same issue with the dishwasher as with the washing machine.

You'll need to measure the amount of water you are drinking. You should be drinking about a half gallon of water a day. And water used to make coffee, tea, etc. all should be accounted for.

Remember:
128 ounces = 1 gallon
64 ounces = 1/2 gallon
8 ounces = 1 cup

How to sign up?
Well, if you are ready to pledge to my water abstinence program during Dry Humps 2010, leave your name in the comments of this post. If you feel like this is an important experiment and want to share it on your blog, you can grab the widgety thingy by using the code here:

<a href="http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/2010/05/dry-humps-challenge-2010.html"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/S_GefVt2A7I/AAAAAAAADfc/Lne9OM7N_KE/dryhumps2010.jpg" alt="Dry Humps Challenge 2010"/></a>

Image courtesy of Water.org

41 comments:

Wabi Sabi Wanderings said...

I am in! Actually, we live in an area with frequent lengthy power outages, which translates into the taps not flowing...but it'll be interesting to do this by choice. Ah, and there's the rub, we are so very blessed to be able to do it "by choice".

I welcome the learning opportunity.

Eve's Awakening said...

I'm going to be honest and say I probably won't do the challenge, but my twice a week 7 minute showers hopefully cut down my water consumption :) Who set the standard for showering every day? It's completely unnecessary. Like anything else, your body gets used to being washed daily and adjusts. My body's learned, essentially, to keep itself pretty clean in lieu of daily showers :)

I don't know if I consider us lucky to be able to participate in this challenge, only because it means we're so used to excess... which is a shame.

Suze said...

I know that our family averages around 12 gallons of water per person per day. I think I have converted correctly. We have been lower than that when our water restrictions were severe.

I know for us this is just about as low as we can go. We are a multigenerational house hold and my father creates some washing. For instance it is hot and humid here and it is hard to skip a shower and would be anti-social to do so. But I think this is a great idea. We do need to think about how we use resources and just because they are there does not mean they should be squandered.

Aydan said...

Hmm... seems like this would be something you could cheat on, to some extent. For example, shower the day before and the day after, make sure you have clean clothes by Friday night, etc.

Sure, why not try this one? I may shift it +1 day or -1 day depending on work and church, though.

Farmer's Daughter said...

This is EXTREME. Love the name :)

I'm out, unfortunately. I'm switching to cloth diapers, and I'm just not going to be able to cut it here. HAVE to do the laundry. Now, if this was last year without the baby, I'd totally be in. Sounds like a great excuse to go swimming in a lake or at the beach instead of showering.

Stephanie said...

What about landscape watering? Most of the water used in Arizona goes to the lawn.

I am out though. I also cloth diaper and there is just no way around washing those.

Anonymous said...

Not up to such an extreme challenge. However, I would like some practical tip for water reduction that could be worked into my everyday life. I'm trying to cut back but don't seem to be making any progress.

--Ave

Condo Blues said...

If you think this is such an extreme challenge - go camping. I grew up camping with my family. As kids we learned to be mindful of water use when we were in situations where we weren't in a campground with full hookup and had to rely on the water in the tanks on our camper.

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

I'm in and so is my family whether they want to or not. lol. I think we can do it. Just means no relaxing bath for me.
I too welcome this learning opportunity. I love these things!

eatclosetohome said...

How does watering the garden fit in? I would argue that water for food production would not be included in the 5gal/person/day figure, because I wouldn't be counting "hidden" water usage if I bought hydroponic tomatoes instead of growing and canning my own.

And ye gods, laundry! "Average household does 400 loads of laundry a year, 40 gallons per load." http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id/25415

Chard Lady said...

Yes, I could do this if it did not include the water I use for growing my own food.

Kate said...

I too am curious about how watering food gardens is going to be figured in this challenge. If we use rainbarrel water for this purpose, do we get a "cheat" here?

While I'm quite prepared to believe that the average African family uses a tiny fraction of what an American household does, I can't see how a family (and I know African families are larger on average than ours) can use 5 gallons total per day if that includes water they need to grow crops. I'd guess agriculture without some degree of irrigation is impossible over much of that continent. Heck, our rainfall is lavish by global standards, and I still have to water when the seeds are germinating.

Marya said...

Love this challenge. Will give it a go, though I may cheat by stealing the grey water from my husband's showers to flush the toilet (I'll never get him to commit to giving up his morning showers).

Jennie said...

Hmm.. this is a tough one. I doubt I'll be able to convince hubby or baby to do this. But, I can try.

I too am a cloth diaper momma, and like the veggie gardens, I do so to avoid the 'hidden' water costs of other alternatives.

I understand your challenge is more to get us thinking about the practical knowledge needed to run a household on low water, but what if we drink a bottle of Coke? Do we count the water costs needed to get that Coke to us? Or the water costs of a pound of beef?

I'll stop there, I'm sure you get the picture.

I like the idea though. I'll do a modified challenge and try to get the drinking/cooking/personal hygiene use to 5 gallons a day, but laundry and gardening will proceed as usual.

Wonder-ful said...

I'm in! I realize that our area is currently at about 2 inches above average (for rain) this year, but it doesn't mean we give up on our water restrictions. Water (and water rights) are a huge issue here. It's also a good time to make water use and conservation as important as water rights.

Wonder-ful said...

@ eatclosetohome

We have a small garden and use ollas. I could see filling my ollas with any extra water at the end of the day... but realistically, we only have to fill them every 4 days.

(They're clay pots buried in the ground with our veggies planted around them... the water leaches out and waters the plants at the root)

Crunchy Chicken said...

I'm going to say that water used for food gardens or crops doesn't count in their daily estimations so, if you are worried that not watering your plants for two days is going to kill them, then don't include it in your totals.

I'm not sure how I feel about lawn watering, it's up to you as to whether or not you want to count it, but again, I never water our lawn during the summer and let it die/go dormant.

Don't count "hidden" water in foods or pre-prepared drinks, unless you are drinking Coke just to avoid using water :)

Also, don't feel like the entire household has to do this - if only you want to participate, that's totally fine.

Olivia said...

Years ago when DH and I were young hippies, our house had no water except what he could carry home in a 5 gallon container. This was emptied into a large pail and used for everything - cooking, washing and so on. It had to be heated on a woodstove for washing and water for cooking was then used for washing floors etc. and then for flushing the toilet. Every drop of water, then, had at least 3 incarnations. In winter we would melt snow for our use. This went on for 3 years and I was 7 months pregnant with our first child before we had hot and cold running water hooked up. I'll never forget the luxury of finally being able to stretch out in a bathtub and run the water. Even the dog got a bath that day!

Mishie said...

I AM LAZY!! I don't want to bother with the math of it lol What I will do in honor of the challenge and compromise of my laziness. I will finally put a soda bottle in the tank of the toilet. Tonight or tomorrow :D

The Nurturing Pirate said...

This is a reminder for me of my days as a teenager living on a sailboat. Our boat held 400 gallons of water, which is an *immense* amount of water, compared to almost all other sailboats, which held 200 gal or less. We felt almost luxurious with our water allotment. And yet, that amount of water would last us months. With no lawn, saltwater toilets, washing dishes by hand with saltwater (rinse with fresh), hand washing our laundry, and *very* minimal showering, our family of four could make that water last for over 3 months. That's a little over 4 gallons per day for the family.

Also, don't forget car washes in those tallies!

Adrienne said...

Here's my quibble with this... just because a family in Africa gets by with only five gallons of water a day doesn't mean that's actually *enough* water. I know Americans waste a lot of water, and it'd be good to stop wasting so much, but is it necessary to cut down to five gallons a day? I don't know. I know there's no way I could do it, if not only for the fact that not flushing the toilet at work isn't going to fly. Instead I think I'll try to think about ways I can reuse gray water... it's hard in an apartment but I know I can do more than I already do.

motheralice said...

Well, for two days at 5 gallons per person, I think we can make it work. When we lived in Kentucky and had to drive 6 miles to the local artisan spring for our water, we made it go as far as possible.

My garden will not die over the weekend if I don't water it, and I don't care if my lawn dies (it would save me a lot of trouble if it did, in fact).

It seems to me that part of the point of this challenge is to bring home the fact of how easy we have it with regards to our water supply. It's always clean when we get it! And someone else cleans it for us!! It comes right to our house!!! Requires no effort to bring it home!!!! There's enough for all of us!!!!!

Having lived without them, my favorite things about modern life are indoor plumbing and refrigeration. My family and I can take a weekend to be reminded just how good we have it.

Thanks for this! Crunchy, you are badass, and make me want to be badass too. ;)

Debra said...

Good challenge! When our family of 5 go camping for 3 weeks, we use way less water per day than 5 gallons. 5 gallons each for a weekend is going to be easy!

Robj98168 said...

Honestly. I saw the Title for this post and thought it was a challenge to dry hump something. Nuts.
Honestly- I probably wont do this challenge. But if you need somebody to boff a pillow I am your man~!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Rob - I have a Japanese Maple out front that needs some attention.

Anonymous said...

We did this in December when our water froze and it was -20C. 2+ weeks of no water and a small assortment of farm animals, too. Cheated every 4 days with hot showers @ neighbors.

But I will be doing a long term water cut back this summer.

cindy24 said...

I am in. Will be like when I took my older daugters to visit my neice in Peace Corps - Niger and we walked to the well and got water for the day. This is the kick I needed to start using the shower/bath water for the plants and using all warmup water for veges. I bought a rain barrel to use for it but only kept it up for a few weeks.

Azulao said...

You know, if my husband ends up being away those 2 days, I'm in. Not sure I could organize it with him splitting time between complaining and laughing. But there's a good chance he will be away on a retreat and I could figger it out. I've got a big ole red bucket that I can put 10 gallons in and go from there.

Crunchy, would you mind posting on the 11th or so and reminding us?

Tadj said...

I think this challenge is a great idea! Living in Southern California and seeing the constant wastefulness of such a limited resource has made me more mindful about water consumption. It should be interesting to see how little water I can use in one day without being dirty. Maybe I'll even have a good influence on my roommate...

Ecodea said...

We sometimes go to a farm that has no running water. We have to pick water by the bucket from a pond a little way from the house. That means we end up using a lot less water (although sometimes we shower rigt there by the pond and use more water). When I was little, too, we lived in a part of the city where there were water shortages (I live in Brazil), so we only had running water a couple of hours a day. My mom used to keep around large buckets full of water; showers, dish and clothes washing used up considerably less water when done this way. Now I live in a place that has a lot of water, but in the summer I try to re-use as much as possible. A bucket in the shower collects some excess water for the toilet. Water from dish washing I collect with a basin in the sink to water my plants. I also re-use the water from my washing machine for the toilet or garden (the pipe is redirected into a really large bucket).

Holly said...

My in-laws live in rural El Salvador, so we go through this life style, not challenge, every time we visit. They are lucky enough to have 150 gallons of water delivered to their house to a concrete cistern every 2-3 days. The water is used by 10-12 people from bathing, cooking, washing clothes, cleaning dishes, everything under the sun. But it's not clean enough to drink, so we have to buy special "bagged water" to avoid viruses. Outhouses used. I always feel guilty when I return home to the states and take a shower with running water or flush a toilet. It's a good "challenge" for awareness purposes, but I won't necessarily agree that it's healthier for a longer stretch of time.

EcoLife said...

I am all over it!!! I think it will be good to evaluate how we take water for granted and see how we can do better!

Eric in Kansas said...

Good challenge, but it's flooding here in Kansas just now.
The garden watering is a really good point too. That is a big part of why I left California for the midwest - here it actually rains during the growing season.
Also, my friend the ex-mayor tells me that the water going into the Kansas River from the Lawrence KS sewage treatment plant is cleaner than the water coming out of river and into the Lawrence water treatment plant. So I can make the river cleaner by just running my taps all day!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

I am going to try this. I think it should be not too big a problem as we already use way less than the average. And I will take my two water guzzling hounds to the river for a drink a few times over the weekend. I guess that is still water usage, but at least it isn't treated water, eh?
Do you have any idea how the stats are complied. Do the figures include idustrial and agricultural usage lumped in with home usage?

m3missy said...

We're going to give it a go. We already conserve water a good bit but could do better. We usually work out 3-5 times a week and only shower on those days. If it weren't for getting so sweaty we wouldn't. But the water goes off when soaping and shaving... so that helps. It'll be fun to figure out just how much we actually use though. Thanks for the challenge.

Anonymous said...

I actually already have a camping trip scheduled over this time, so I would be using about that much water anyway. Is that cheating?

Me said...

We're in. Can I fill the dog's water bowls up the night before?
We live in a drought-affected area so we do a lot of things that are water-wise but it can't hurt to bump up the water saving!

Jenette said...

I could probably do it for a weekend but not long term. I wash diapers 2 x a week in a front load washer and if i remember it was 20-30 gallons. A top loader is somewhere between 40-50 gallons. But my tub is around 100 gallons.

Allie said...

I have to tell you, every time I see the statistics on the water use of Americans I am astounded. My monthly bill always says "1000 gallons," which I assume isn't exact. But based on that, the 2 of us use 16.7 gallons/day each, including the cat and dog's consumption in with our own (instead of averaging it separately).

And I feel like I use a LOT of water. However, I don't water my lawn ever (the rain can do it or it can die; I just don't care to spend water on it that could just be coming out of the sky instead of a drain - interestingly enough, my neighbour asked me the other day what I do to keep my lawn so healthy and lush and she was shocked when I told her I simply don't water it and let nature take care of itself), laundry only gets done once a month, we shower infrequently (generally favouring just getting the important parts w/o going through the whole process), turn the water off while brushing teeth, and I wash each dish by hand as it's used. Despite all that, I still feel like we use a lot of water. Mostly on flushing the toilet.

I don't think I'm actually going to be doing this challenge, because to be perfectly honest, I like flushing my toilet and I can't think of another way to reasonably cut out 2/3 of my water consumption. But I will definitely be watching the updates with interest!

Allie said...

I forgot to mention that during camping trips and hurricanes, we use 5 gallons or less (usually less) per day for the whole family. But I don't think this is a healthy way to live in the long-term.

thetinfoilhatsociety.com said...

We're in, at least I am. I grabbed your poster and posted the challenge on my blog as well!

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