Posted by: Kevin Freedman | February 22, 2011

NEW WEBSITE!!!

We just published our new website and it looks great! This blog will still carry on so visit it frequently but our main site can be found at:

www.howlowflowcanyougo.com

 

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Posted by: Kevin Freedman | January 28, 2011

How Low Flow Can You Go?

So you’re thinking of taking the Water Conservation Challenge? Here’s some info to help encourage you to try it!

The goal is to live on 25 litres of water per day for the entire month of March. The average North American uses about 330 litres per day while the average European uses around 250 litres per day so by taking this up you would be severely limiting your water use. There are many different ways to do it. The original campaigner filled up a large Gatorade jug with 25 litres every morning and did not use a faucet at all for the rest of the day. All his water came from this jug including drinking water, water for a sponge bath (at an general flow of 10 litres per minute, showers are difficult to use efficiently) and water for flushing the toilet. Grey water reuse is a must, the sponge or cloth from a sponge bath can be wrung out and reused in the toilet as can excess water from a load of laundry. However, if you are going to do it we encourage you to use whatever method is most comfortable and convenient for you; it is difficult, I won’t kid you, but more than a dozen people have already tried it so it is by no stretch impossible!

The other aspects to this project involve promoting water stewardship and conservation in your community and in local media. Each time this has been done we have had immense success promoting the event in the media reaching media outlets across Canada in print, television, internet and radio. We also encourage participants to take pledges from their friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, local celebrities and politicians. Not for money though, we take pledges of water! How does this work? Instead of pledging a dollar figure, your supporter would sign our form and pledge to reduce their own daily water use by a certain number of litres (quarts) per day, at a minimum of a 25 litre reduction per day. From more than 300 litres in regular use, this is not difficult at all for the average person to accomplish. Last year there were close to 250 pledges signed and this year we want to bow that number out of the water! Pun intended!

We will support you throughout your journey with tips and info, contacts (if we have) and admiration! We are even trying to wrangle up some prizes for those campaigners who receive the most pledges! So, there is only a month until the Challenge starts, what are you waiting for? Contact Kevin at

howlowflowcanyougo@gmail.com

Posted by: Kevin Freedman | January 22, 2011

Water Conservation Challenge 2011!

We’re back! Or will be soon to promote water stewardship and seek your pledges to reduce your daily water use for the month of March. After our extremely successful second year with twelve participants from around Canada and the world (and a late addition in the fall of 2010) we are looking to make this, out third year, the biggest and best ever! We are developing a new logo and new flash-based website to promote our cause and are seeking more participants from all over the world. If you would like to get involved, contact us at waterchallenge@yahoo.com and please tell friends, family or colleagues that may be interested, please put them in touch! We want more input and as much involvement as possible to make this as inclusive and as inviting of an event as possible. Send out the message below to your contacts, we are looking forward to your support!

January 22, 2011

Dear Friends,

We are just six weeks away from March which means that the Water Conservation Challenge will soon be starting again. For the third time environmentalists of all stripes and those just looking for a challenge will do their best to live on just 25 litres of water per day for an entire month. A mere 25 litres for drinking, cooking, bathing, mopping, laundry and whatever else we use water for in our daily lives. To put it in context, this is less than 8% of the water the average Canadian uses in a day but substantially more than many people in the developing world have access to.

The first two times we did this the event was a complete success, beginning with one campaigner in Winnipeg, Canada and growing to more than a dozen people representing four Canadian provinces and three countries in its second year. March 2011 will be our third year and we want it to be our biggest year yet! Our participation goal this year is to have each of the ten Canadian provinces represented, several U.S. states and more than eight countries involved.

While we not only encourage water conservation and stewardship through our actions, we also seek to have friends, family, colleagues and anyone else we may come in contact with to pledge to reduce their own water use for the month. In 2010 the pledges we collected amounted to more than 250,000 litres of water saved from our everyday use and this year we are looking to continue our exponential growth by saving more than 1 million litres! Another of our major successes in the first two years has been a substantial amount of media coverage about the Challenge in print, television, radio and on the internet that has helped us heavily promote water conservation and stewardship in our communities and abroad.

Is this something that you or someone you know may be interested in? It is difficult but nowhere near impossible and we have accumulated lots of knowledge to pass on to make the Challenge as attainable as possible. Please feel free to check out the website or contact us at the email address below for more information or to throw your hat in the ring. We look forward to having you!

Sincerely,

Kevin Freedman

waterchallenge@yahoo.com

https://waterconservationchallenge.wordpress.com (a new site is coming soon!)

Posted by: alinasiegfried | April 21, 2010

47,811 litres of water saved!

The month of March is over, the sponge baths are done and I am back to showering! Yay! The novelty of showering has not yet worn off, I still enjoy each and every one!  Something I have kept doing is filling a bucket with water as my shower heats up – I find that it takes about 6 litres before the water runs hot – just enough to pour into the toilet tank for one flush!

It was certainly a challenging month, but a lot of fun and it really got the message of the importance of water conservation across to a lot of people. I’ve been singing the water conservation tune for years now, but I found there really is nothing like leading by example to engage people on the issue. I was thrilled at the media uptake of the challenge and feel like I reached a wide audience. And survived many an attack on my personal hygiene!

Thank you all for pledging to reduce your own water use during the month of March. I am pleased to report that collectively, your pledges added up to:

38,223 litres of water saved throughout the month of March!

This is awesome, you should all be very proud of yourselves! And this is just those in Saskatchewan who pledged water to me. I’m sure with all the pledges that other participants gathered, we saved hundreds of thousands of litres of water. As well as leaving that water in the river for ecosystems to use, the pledges have saved a great deal of environmental and financial cost of pumping and treating all that water and then the cost of treating it again at the sewage treatment plant (80 – 90% of water that comes into your home is not consumed – ie it goes down the drain and needs to be treated again before discharge to the river).

In terms of my own personal water savings – its hard to calculate as I have no idea how much water I used before I began the challenge. But going by the Canadian average of 329 litres of water per day (I’m sure I use much less in an average day but having no other figure, this is the best I can do)……..

I finished the month with 114 litres of water “banked” – ie by not using my whole 25 litre allotment. Keeping this in mind, I saved a total of 9,588 litres in March!

With 10 people participating this year, there is definitely potential to make the challenge an annual thing. I will be back in New Zealand by this time next year,  thus widening the scope of the challenge. I’ll keep the Facebook group active (search for “Shutting off the Tap”) and keep people posted early next year.

Congratulations everyone! Thank you for doing your bit to conserve water and raise awareness about this important issue. I believe that within my life time, the worlds’ major wars will be fought not over oil, but over water. In fact it’s already begun…but that’s another story.

Cheers
Alina

Posted by: alinasiegfried | March 31, 2010

Tomorrow……I shower!

Wow. Day 31, and I have, for the most part, succeeded in using no more than 25 litres of water per day to meet all my needs. In a society set up such as ours, this made for a lot of extra work and some uncomfortable social situations. Still I got through it and it was worth it to hear all your stories about how you have been thinking about your own personal water consumption. I got an email from one guy who heard about the challenge and it spurned him to finally get around to buying two low flow toilets for his home as well as two for his mother and one for an aunt. He calculated that with a pretty conservative three flushes per day on all these toilets which he installed, replacing older 13 litre-per-flush models, he saved 3255 litres of water over 31 days. And this, my friends, is why I engaged in this challenge.

Tomorrow I shower. And I have to say I’m really looking forward to it. In saying that, I’m not going to have a half hour shower. Though living on 25 litres per day is not at all practical, I will continue with some water saving habits that I formed this month. Some ideas on how you can make small changes in your home to conserve water:

–          Turn off the tap when brushing teeth and/or shaving

–          Rinse vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap

–          If you like to drink cold water, keep a jug of it in the fridge rather than running the tap until its cold each time

–          If you are unfortunate enough to live in an area where the city recommends flushing lead from the pipes for 5 minutes before you consume water, fill large containers of water in the morning to minimize the amount of water you use for flushing the pipes

–          Yellow? Let it mellow!

–          Catch the cold water from the shower as it is heating up in a bucket and use this to flush your toilet.

–          Re-use grey water from dishes and laundry to flush your toilet, or if you are using biodegradable detergents, water your plants.

The possibilities are almost endless. Here’s a website with a bunch more tips:

http://www.wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php

I’ve made use of a lot of traditional media this month to get the message across to people, including television, radio and newspaper. But the use of online social networking and blogging has helped me reach an even wider audience. I’ve even had some fun combining my message with art. Check out this slam poem I performed last weekend about my challenge:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xI9BkKDMgM

Thank you for your continued support this month. Thank you to all who pledged to reduce their own water consumption for 31 days – we’ll let you know in the coming weeks how much was collectively saved. Thank you to my friends who followed after me in public washrooms to flush for me! Thank you to all!

It’s been a blast!
Alina.

Posted by: Kevin Freedman | March 31, 2010

Hours to go

As the month winds down I am sure I can speak for all of us campaigners (and certainly Stephanie as I spoke with her today) by saying that taking a shower will be a huge relief! One of my biggest frustrations has been washing myself after swimming at the pool as I bring my own water in a bottle. I have never been a big fan of cold showers so I boil water and put it in one of my metal bottles to take to my practice wrapping it in a towel for the bike ride or drive to the pool. On a couple of occasions though, and most blatantly last Thursday, I forgot to take the bottle out f my bag to cool off and the water was so hot that I was unable to use it to wash myself and had to wait until home. I will be glad to not have to do this again for at least eleven more months.

On Tuesday the Challenge added a few more notable names to the list of pledges. Two popular city councillors, Harvey Smith and Jenny Gerbasi pledged to reduce their water use for the next 31 days as did the mayor of Winnipeg, Sam Katz! Water issues, especially that of the future of the Winnipeg public owned water utility as well the health of Lake Winnipeg have made frequent appearances in the news lately and while there is much debate, it is nice to see that everyone on all side of the political spectrum can agree that water conservation is an important aspect of being good water stewards and should be considered by all!

Posted by: alinasiegfried | March 26, 2010

The buckets are plotting against me!

It’s Day 26 of the Water Conservation Challenge and 6 more days until I can have a shower – a luxury I am much looking forward to! It seems that my buckets are conspiring against me and always putting themselves in locations in my house that are as far away as possible from where I need them – this matters a lot in a 3 storey house! I’ve spent a lot of time trudging up and down stairs with buckets. Actually, in truth this challenge has been a lot easier than I thought – and once you make the big changes such as using grey water to flush and bathing out of a bucket, it is not difficult at all to come in under 25 litres of water per day. I have about 70 litres banked right now. I could take a short shower. But I won’t – when else do you have the excuse not shower for a month? 😉

It’s funny how in different views and contexts, 25 litres can sometime seem like so much, and other times so little. For example, while waiting for my big 20 litre jug to fill in the bathtub (because it won’t fit under any other tap in my house) and then hoisting it downstairs (20 litres = roughly 20 kg or 44 lb), 20 litres of water seems like a lot! But then while walking across the Victoria Bridge the other day, I looked down upon the water, I imagined what a cube containing my 25 litres of water would look like, and figured the sides would be roughly the size of a bandana. So as I watched a bandana-shaped patch of water flow beneath me, suddenly 25 litres seemed like nothing.

A lot of people have asked me this month “Why should we conserve water? We have so much water”. This is due to the widespread Myth of Abundance of freshwater that most people in Canada still believe. Yes, Canada has 7% of the worlds freshwater, but the overwhelming majority of that water is either locked up in arctic ice, or in the Great Lakes. The water in the Great Lakes is the melt-water left over from the last Ice Age, and less than 2% of it is actually renewable water. Once it’s gone, or polluted, that’s it. Here in Saskatchewan, most of our water is locked away in northern lakes. Most of the large centres in Saskatchewan draw their water from either the North or South Saskatchewan Rivers. Both of these rivers are glacier-fed beginning in the Rocky Mountains. The glaciers that feed into the South Saskatchewan River declined in size by 50% between 1975 and 1998. If this trend continues (and it’s quite likely to), it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we will be facing water supply problems in the future. Add to this, the fact that within Alberta, no new licences have been granted to take water from the South Saskatchewan River for several years now because the river is over-allocated, and you can start to see why it is important to start getting used to the idea of conserving water!

Enough technical talk. This has been an awesome, yet challenging, month and I’ve been thrilled with how many people have told me how much more they are thinking about their water use now, and actively finding ways to reduce their consumption. It’s not too late to pledge water – just send me a message back (Reply to me only, not Reply All please) telling me how much you think you can reduce your daily consumption by for the next 30 days and I’ll add it to the tally.

For those of you in Saskatoon, come out to the Poetry Slam at Lydias on Sunday night 8pm to hear about my water challenge in a slightly different and more entertaining format that you may be used to!

6 more days!

Alina

Posted by: tamaraisforlove | March 25, 2010

Story of Stuff: Bottled Water

Interesting watch…the Story of Stuff: Bottled Water

Posted by: Kevin Freedman | March 23, 2010

One week to go!

Throughout this month as well as last June I have explained to others just how I am living with so little water. Several questions get repeated frequently especially the question of what I do when I am out and nature calls. As part of the mission of this challenge I must do my best to be as healthy as possible so when nature calls, I answer. Essentially, if I need to use to washroom I do. Being a man certainly makes this easier as I am able to use a urinal as opposed to a toilet which would generally take much less water to flush. But on top of this, I do my best not to flush when possible but instead use one of my water bottles to spray water into the urinal to clean it, this keeping hygienic as well. I am also lucky to spend much of my time away from home at one of two swimming pools in Winnipeg that each have waterless urinals. I have actually planned some of my schedule around this as while urinals use very little water, a few flushes and I use up lots of my daily water allotment.

since my last post I gave a presentation at a workshop hosted by the Manitoba Eco-Network entitled “Water conservation and Beyond..” as well at to a group of students from the Seven Oaks Met School upon the invitation of an old friend. I am ecstatic that I have been given so many opportunities to get the message of water conservation across to such a wide variety of people and look forward to presenting more! With just over a week left a couple hundred people have attended my presentations and a couple hundred more have signed pledges! If you haven’t yet pledged to reduce your water use or if you have an event you would like me to speak at please let me know as I am always up for talking to groups young and old!

Posted by: Kevin Freedman | March 16, 2010

Halfway point

So it is March 16 which means that the Water Conservation Challenge 2010 is halfway over! It is a nice milestone for us all after some grueling work measuring jars of water and washing ourselves out of a bucket. But it has been completely worth it and our message of water stewardship has been heard and supported by many. In fact the Challenge recently received support and a signed pledge form from our highest profile person yet, Hugh McFayden, the leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party, the Official Opposition here. Mr. McFayden is highly supportive of our water conservation efforts and does his best to limit the water he uses on a day-to-day and has now pledged to try to reduce his water footprint by a further 25 litres per day for the next 31! What a great response so far from elected leaders!

Since it is the halfway point and I have neglected to do so much so far, I think I will throw out some figures of my water use so far. Firstly, last year while 25 litres per day was my goal, I went over this limit a few times using water I had “stockpiled” from previous days. This year I wanted to go every single day under 25 litres and beat my daily average from last year (slightly less than 20 litres per day) while staying as healthy and hygienic as possible. So far I have met and exceeded this goal! According to my rough calculations of my water use (which are far less precise than Celeste’s in Ottawa) after 15 1/2 days (until 1pm today, because of daylight savings :)) out of a possible 387.5 litres I had used merely 294 litres, slightly less than my average from last year and not one day have I used more than 25! The numbers are shaping up similar to last year with the bulk of my water use occurring in the toilet but more than half of that water has been reused grey water. In second place is personal hygiene water followed by laundry water. I hope to keep this up and am further limiting my water use every day through integrating tips shared by others. Thanks again for all the support and keep the pledges coming!

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