Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just Two H's and an O

This time of year, my skin starts to feel like sandpaper. I use body wash and lotions, which profess to be hydrating, to keep me from feeling as if I am in the Sahara in summer rather than the Midwest in winter. I think the desert is beautiful, but my skin prefers moisture. Dry is not my natural habitat. It’s really not anybody’s.

Water is critical to life, yet is seems like such a simple thing. Hydrogen atoms – two of them and one of oxygen. That’s it. H2O. Even if you never studied chemistry, you know that formula. Water is the universal solvent. If you want to learn more about its physical properties, check out this site designed for teaching science. There’s a quiz you can take, too.

Everyone knows you can live longer without food than water. Chemicals reactions in our body rely on water. Everyone knows that dehydration is bad for you. Drink lots of water, they tell us. Plain old good, clean water. On the other hand, they tell us to conserve water. I guess it’s our job to figure out how to do both.

I try to be careful about how I use water, but I am not always successful. I love a good hot shower and could stand under one for a long time, but I try to restrain myself and turn it off after I have rinsed the conditioner out of my hair. While I am brushing my teeth I try to remember not to let the water run down the drain. I turn off the faucet – most of the time. I only run the dishwasher when it is full and I try to consolidate loads of laundry. I am not yet to the point where I water my plants with bathtub water, but I am thinking about doing it for my container tomato plants this summer.

I took a survey where I learned that on an average day I use 72 gallons of water. I read somewhere else that the average person uses 70 gallons a day, so I am about average. For me that number included two loads of wash, but not things like car washes (I leave mine dirty) and watering the lawn. We live in a condo, and that water usage is assigned to the condo management company. But seventy gallons seems like an awful lot of water. Picture seventy gallons of milk sitting on your kitchen counter, and that amount is just per capita for domestic use. It doesn’t take into account industry, agriculture, hydroelectricity generation, and other uses.

The average toilet flush takes three gallons of water. Yikes, three gallons of water! A load of laundry takes 10 gallons. I am going to have to find a way to cut back on my water usage, but I don’t think the bathroom is where I want to do it. I will have to find other ways, or maybe I can leave the conditioner in my hair. Now wouldn’t that be attractive?

I’d be curious to know how much water other people use on average. Take the survey at

The pictures here were taken today. The top one is behind Kemper Center. The other is along the beach near Pennoyer Park.


Amy Short said...


You should try Cerave for your skin. You can get it at the pharmacy. It is a bit pricey but incredible and recommended by my dermatologist. Faaabulous!

More soon!

Michael Remson said...

You wrote \"I don’t think the bathroom is where I want to do it," and said that toilets average 3 gal./flush. In fact, your toilets use 1.5 gal/flush.

I know because I'm your husband.