21 August 2008

Beware: Cheezy Hippie Post About Dirt

I actually smiled when seeing car after dirty car in the work parking lot. The months of summer dry don't usually keep the locals from having shiny cars. But this season the lines at the car wash are shorter. There's hardly anyone with a bucket and sponge in their driveway. The summer fundraising kids are desperate on the corners.

The Bay Area water restriction means that homeowners need to use 19% less water this year than the same time last year. This was a hard challenge for us, as our garden is already drought tolerant and we have efficient appliances and low flush toilets. But we have learned to trust that the dishwasher will clean when the dishes aren't fully rinsed and it's packed to capacity. We have remembered the efficiency of a quick shower, the simplicity of reusing clothes. We let our tiny clover lawn try to die. We aren't making flushing an exciting part of Otto's potty training. We thought it impossible. We have reduced our water use by half.

It seems the awareness of the drought is growing. It's not just the environmentalists who are forgoing clean cars. Judging by the lot, it's most everyone. Three months into the restriction, I am totally comfortable asking if I should flush or not when visiting someone's house. Lately, I even assume the house follows the Yellow Be Mellow, Brown Flush Down philosophy, and I just close the lid.

Saving water is a change of life. We do it not for fear of water bill penalty, but because we know water is scarce. We want everyone to have some. The cars in the lot made me happy because it was obvious that so many people chose to care for the planet over making the car shiny. I thought about going to the full service wash the other day, because my car was a mess, inside and out. But I realized the inside was more important to me- that's the part I see more often- so I shook out the floor mats and wiped the dashboard with a baby wipe. Good as new in 4 minutes, and only one wipe to the landfill.

Now if I could tackle the other messes in my life with such satisfying efficiency and environmental aplomb, then I'd really be smiling!

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