sustainablespu

Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese


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Water Conservation on Campus & the Water Crisis around the world


A central theme of sustainability is avoiding waste of resources in order to create a better foundation for the future. I thought I’d share some ways SPU is stepping up its game and asking students to engage on the issue of water. If you live on campus, you may have noticed some new signage in your bathroom bringing attention water conservation and giving students a few practical ways to do so. In a previous post, I described this summer’s  water shortage and the subsequent voluntary reduction implemented by Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma. In addition to the operational changes we made this summer to reduce campus water consumption, we are asking students to help reduce water use this fall.

There are many benefits to saving water:

  • Saving water just means using less so that it can be used by others in your area. When water is used it must go through a treatment or cleaning process before it can be used again. The typical treatment for our drinking water in the United States is a five step process that is regulated on a federal level; it uses time, energy and financial resources to clean our water. So limiting the need for that redundant process is beneficial to everyone, especially if you live in a water scare region or in times of drought.
  • Conserving water isn’t just based on communal concern, but can also be based on finances; using less means paying for less. This is also key when the cost of water varies from place to place and certain people are controlling how much you must pay for clean water (be on the look-out for a future a post on the privatization of water!). As fresh water is a limited resource to be used by people, we have to think about how that 1% of the Earth’s water is shared among the approximately 3 billion people.

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Ways to Avoid Wasting Water


For those of you not in Seattle, this summer has been a bit hotter than normal, to the point where extra heat has had an effect on the typically conscientious water use of Seattleites, creating an increased demand and usage. The combination of heat and  record low river levels has put Seattle on edge, and as a precaution the city implemented the second stage of its water shortage plan  on August 11th, along with nearby cities Tacoma and Everett. This stage is voluntary, with the cities asking customers to reduce their water consumption by 10%. I have joined this voluntary stage by timing my shower this morning to cut back on my water use (Down to 7 minutes! My goal is 4 by the end of the week.).

Infographic

There are so many tips out there for how to avoid wasting water, including some the city references specifically on their website, but I also found an awesome infographic that I wanted to share.  This infographic was last updated in 2013, so I’m hoping there has been some progress since then on our water conservation, but these are still shocking statistics. (Infographic found at greenerideal, originally created by elocal).

Seattle Pacific has already made some hardware upgrades to help reduce water, and we limit our watering to specific areas on campus during the summer. There are low flow shower heads in all of the residence halls and dual flush toilets in various locations across campus that use less than the average bathroom fixtures. In an effort to be a conscientious community member, the University is currently assessing different options to meet the City’s request, such as modifying and reducing irrigation schedules—more details to come. In addition, you can help SPU save water by reporting any leaks you notice on campus to the Building Maintenance line and by cutting down your personal usage of water. Continue reading


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Showers and Water Conservation


showerI’ll be the first to admit it. I like my showers long. There’s something about being in an isolated space under the constant reassurance of soothing hot water that lets you relax on a level rarely possible elsewhere. Unfortunately, long hot showers aren’t the best activities when practicing sustainability. For those like me with a special fondness for lengthy showers, cutting down bathing time can be difficult. My first reaction to this instrument of torture  shower-timer I discovered online was unease; it cuts off the water automatically after a certain time. The thought of being suddenly stuck without water with shampoo in your hair is quite unpleasant. It’s even programmed so that you can’t turn the water back on immediately. Just cruel. Fortunately there are less extreme options as far as shower-timers go, but these, of course, require more self-discipline. Can we do it? I say we stick it to the shower timers out there that don’t think we can. We don’t need them to turn the water off for us. We have hands and we’re capable of twisting a shower nozzle. Continue reading