Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Element 3: The Life and Water Usage of a College Student

It’s easy to go about your day and be ignorant of how much water you use. Rarely do I remain conscious of the amount of waste-water I produce; it’s so easy to take for granted. But during the course of this project I have been growing more aware of how much I produce. I’ll take you through a day in my shoes and highlight just how easy it is to not think about it and how much waste water I make. I’ll walk you through a normal Thursday of classes.

 I wake up at 8:30 am and the very first thing I do is go into the bathroom, I use the toilet and then I get in the shower. I shower for about 17 minutes, the water running consistently for that entire time. I get out, flush the toilet, and go to the sink. At the sink I turn on the faucet and wet my toothbrush. When I finish brushing I rinse with more water. Then I wash my face once more with water from the faucet. All waste water.

 After that I walk to class, my first class is a lecture that lasts for about 55 minutes. During lecture I begin getting hungry and can only hold off the sensation with water from my Nalgene. After lecture I have some time before my next class and I go to the campus café and order some food. It’s about lunch time so I order a burger. As I watch them make it, they pour water on the griddle and flap on some patties. Yet more water. Sure I didn’t directly use that, but it was for my order, I can’t help feeling responsible.

                Lunch is over and I head to class, a discussion class for an hour and twenty minutes. At around the 45 minute mark the ice tea from lunch and the water from the previous class demand of me the toilet yet again. More water usage. Class is over and I have a laboratory class right after. It is a chemistry lab, and throughout the lab I need to use water to clean glassware, make dilutions, involve in reactions, and etc. There is no second thought, it must get used the way it does or I can’t complete what I have to do. It is only until after lab, some 3 hours later when I have a moment to breathe and think back. Most of the water used in the reaction or with other hazardous chemicals will be treated separately, but all of the water for cleaning the glassware, which I can only guess at must be gallons, goes down the drain.

                Classes are over for me now on Thursdays but I hang around campus for a couple more hours to do work. I record a total of 3 more bathroom trips during the rest of my time on campus, two liquid, one solid, each trip producing waste water from flushing and washing. By this time it is getting late and I am getting hungry again, so I trek home. Entering my kitchen I am halted by piles of dishes from my roomate and I sitting in the sink. It’s been days since the dishes have been done and anything I need to cook with is dirty. I do the dishes like so, I prewash with soap and water, leaving the sink flowing the entire time. As plates and bowls and spoons and forks get their washing I place them in the dishwasher. I look down at my watch and the whole ordeal takes about 30 minutes. Thirty minutes of continual water usage.

 The plates and such are loaded up, but pots and pans don’t fit into our washer and must be done by hand, another 10 minutes of thorough washing. More water down the drain and away. I am pretty hungry and the lack of dishes to use is annoying, so I boil a pot of water and make some pasta, easy and quick. But I take more water from the sink, and most of it, after I am done cooking will get poured away again. As I wait for the water to boil I turn on the dish washer, and sit in contemplation of the water I used today, all so easy to use and easy to get rid of, no need to think of what to do with it once I am done. These thoughts tumble around in my mind as I sit opposite of the dish washer, spitting out gallons of water tumbling around all of my dishes, washed and washed again. All of it down the drain and away.

Doing the math:

~17 minutes in shower X 2.5 gallons/min = 42.5 gallons

~2 minutes sink for brushing X 1.5 gallons/min = 3 gallons

5 toilet usages X 1.6 gallons/flush = 8 gallons

~40 min washing dishes X 1.3 gallons/min at sink = 52  gallons

 Total waste water produced = 105.5 Gallons!


A Chart that shows on average the daily usage of water in a household.

Obviously this only takes into account the daily routines I do, but there are many other things that we do to produce waste water. Think about your routines and comment below on how you use water on a daily basis. How can you reduce that usage?



1 comment:

  1. It's so difficult to think of how we can reduce our water use because we're all so set in our routines. I don't have a dishwasher at my apartment so when I have a lot of dishes to go through I fill the sink with as much water as a need and wash all the dishes at once, then rinse them all together after. I'm not actually sure whether or not this is better than letting the water run the whole time, but I like to think it is. Another beneficial tactic to reduce water use, there are shower heads that let you turn the water off from coming out the spout with the flick of a switch or the push of a button. This doesn't effect water temperatures at the base, it merely stops the water flow while you soap up or shampoo. It's just as easy to flip or push back to rinse off!