Consider this: Water

Consider this: Water

It’s all around us. It flows from our faucets whenever we turn the knob. It pours down from the sky. Even in times of drought, we still have water in our houses. Why should we have to worry about it? It’s our right as citizens to have water, and it will always be there, right?

Wrong.

99.7% of the earth’s water cannot be used. We depend on a limited supply of freshwater for every day use and agriculture, among other things. 90% of countries share water supplies with other countries, which means that conflict could arise over water shortages.

Production accounts for a huge amount of water use. For example, one cotton t-shirt requires 713 gallons of water. One gallon of beer takes 689 gallons. One pound of beef requires 1799 gallons of water. 70% of all freshwater use is in agriculture.

Access to clean water is one of the biggest problems in the world today. One child dies every 20 seconds due to a water related disease, and only 54% of the world has access to clean, fresh water in their home.

As the population of the world increases, don’t be fooled and think that there will be water for everyone – more people means an increased need for agriculture and production of goods, which all requires a ton of water.

Climate change has a negative affect on the amount of fresh water available. Droughts are more severe and more frequent. My grandparents often have limits on how much water they can use because they live in Arizona. I can’t imagine having limits being put on my water usage, and I bet a lot of you can’t either.

There is so much more I could say about why water is important and why you need to think of it as a limited resource, but I’ll leave that to you if you’re interested. Instead, I have a challenge for you.

Yesterday, I took a fifteen minute shower. I plugged the drain to see how much water I used in that time – the tub almost overflowed. I remember reading somewhere that the average shower used less water than a bath, but not in my case. My shower head lets out SO much water – it feels fantastic for getting clean, but when I looked at how much water was around my legs, I felt terrible. I am going to go back to my six minute or less showers and try to save as much water as possible.

Tomorrow, in honor of world water day, I challenge you to test yourself – plug your tub while you shower, see how much water you use, and try to use less. The more water you use, the more water has to be treated at the wastewater treatment plant, which is expensive and wasteful and will eventually lead to water bills getting higher.

Your wallet will thank you – not only will you be saving on your water bill, but you will be saving on heating that water.

Everything is connected, you just have to consider it for a minute.

This is definitely something I need to get better at… how about you?

Thought Catalog

It’s the end-goal of everything we do. It’s why we pray, get married, go to college, slave through tiresome days at the office, endure heartache, buy into fads, and move through (the sometimes unbearable) woes of everyday life…  and more importantly, it’s why we care so damn much about it all. It’s why we are so hurt when our lives don’t become what we had hoped they would be. Its happiness, and it’s at the root of everything we desire. But what we seem to overlook is that happiness is not an elusive state of euphoria that we eventually stumble upon once all of our goals are fulfilled. Happiness is a choice, and you are just as capable of experiencing it now as you will be once your life looks as you think it ideally should.

Yes. Happiness is a choice. And you can choose it right now. Close…

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Green Girl Going Green

Green Girl Going Green

I have always been frugal, and I make an effort to not buy things that are unnecessary. I make a vague effort to buy things that are better for the environment – not nearly good enough, but it’s on my mind. This summer I am going to be interning with the Office of Sustainability here at IU, and so if I’m going to talk the talk, I need to start really walking the walk. I’ve always wanted to be better about my green living, and now is the perfect chance to learn everything I can and learn to how to be an influence on others.

Here are some things I do now to live sustainability:

  • I avoid frozen dinners and food with excessive packaging
  • I only buy things when I really need them – 90% of the time
  • Currently using up all my random soaps and shampoos instead of buying new ones, so I can replace them with eco-friendly products
  • Shop at the co-op and at farmers market when I can/when my wallet allows
  • We keep our thermostat below 68 degrees, and I insulated all my windows with plastic
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle–I probably recycle too much and some of the stuff the recycling truck takes probably ends up at the landfill anyway
  • Last summer I grew a small garden with tomatoes and basil – this year I can’t do that, but I’m going to have some potted herbs
  • Reuse grocery bags as trash bags – and my roommate and I only need to take out the trash one a month or less
  • I don’t use paper towels, plates, disposable silverware, or disposable cups whenever possible. At work most people use styrofoam cups for drinks but I always use a glass instead-it’s not that hard to wash it when I’m done!
  • I save restaurant to-go containers for an extra use. The aluminum ones make great baking pans!
  • Collect rainwater for watering when it’s warm
  • My lawn mower is battery powered and I don’t water the lawn
  • I never-ever purchase bottled water. I have a brita that I really only use to make myself feel better – I rarely change the filter, but the tap water is fine so I don’t worry about it.
  • Instead of buying ice for coolers, I freeze (reusable) waterbottles so that I’m not wasting water by dumping out all the melted ice – I can just drink the water when it melts!

There are other things, I’m sure, but there are a few of the easiest ways that everyone should be reducing their footprint.

Today, I took a quiz to estimate my carbon footprint on myfootprint.org. It told me that if everyone lived like me, we would need four more earths like ours to support everyone. I know this is just to sort of put things in perspective, and I’m sure I could have done much worse, but it was definitely a wake-up call that I need to be doing more.

So, my new project is to be more sustainable. I’m going to reduce waste in my own home, try to re-purpose some things, reduce my energy consumption, drive even less than I do now, and be super cognoscente of where my waste is going. I hope that along the way I can share some of the things I learn.

A Backwards Spring Break

A Backwards Spring Break

My grandma was moved to a nursing about a month ago. Her health has been declining for awhile and she has had dementia for the last couple of years, but we never really knew what was wrong with her until all of a sudden she had no strength left and moved to the home. I didn’t have spring break plans and the rest of my year is up in the air, so I figured I needed to go see her sooner than later, in case I missed my chance.

So, Steven packed up and went to South Dakota, where there was two feet of snow. Kind of a backwards spring break-especially since last year we went to Florida. Steven had never met that side of the family and has never been north of Chicago until now, so he was excited to see someplace new.

He made me leave at 4am so we could watch the IU game in Minneapolis before we headed to a family friends’ in St. Paul. We stopped at Town Hall Brewery and had lunch and a drink. I wasn’t impressed with any of their beers, which was disappointing.Image

They didn’t have a good TV to watch the game on, so we headed across the street to a sports bar.

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St. Paul was great. I love the people we stay with – my godparents (but only my sister is baptized). They’re the greatest. The next morning it was off to South Dakota. We stopped at my grandparent’s lake cabin on the way so Steven could see it. My grandpa built it all himself using white pine – it’s gorgeous. We didn’t stay long since it’s winterized and cold. I hope someday we can use it in the summer.

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I love the family history of the farm. Pretty much everyone in town has lived there their entire life, and their grandparents came over from Norway and Sweden. My grandparent’s house is the original Youngquist homestead that my great great grandparents built and my mom grew up in.

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Tuesday morning this is what everything looked like. I don’t know how it snowed/rained to look like this on the trees but everything sparkled and it was gorgeous. Even though I spring break generally means going somewhere warm, at least it wasn’t mud season like it normally would have been there during that week.

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This is my dad’s old Mercedes from college. He meant to fix it up eventually and sell it, but it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, if ever. It’s falling apart and is the home of many mice, and I lost the only key to it when I was younger. Oh well. Here it is covered in snow.

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And here is my cutie getting ready for a romp in the snow. Well, not quite. We just went ATVing for probs half an hour, but doesn’t he look so nice in flannel?

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Wednesday we borrowed my cousin’s snowmobiles and went out for awhile. It was Steven’s first time using a sled and neither of us crashed! =) It was not a bad trip overall. I made some bomb meals (swedish meatballs and creamed chicken on biscuits), made three batches of cookies for grandpa, saved an orchid from death (I have an orchid now! yay!), showed Steven around a bit and grandma seemed okay. Sad, but okay. I’ve never spent that much time in a nursing home before and it was really strange.

On the way home, we got a hotel in Madison, stopped at a couple of liquor stores, and went to Three Floyds. Steven ended up with a LOT of beer… and convinced me to buy a case of my own.

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Overall, it was a pretty good break. It didn’t really feel like a vacation, and I definitely have to kick some ass the last 7 weeks of this semester, but I’m excited. I’m going to try really hard to balance everything – work, play, exercise, and school – and actually succeed/not drown. I’m officially spending one final summer in Bloomington and graduating in August, which I’m pretty excited about. I wasn’t ready to leave quite yet. Time to get in gear!