As I was reading again about Gandhi’s lovely quote—“My life is my message”—and Weil’s sage advice on leading by example, I was thinking about how I always drain my daughter’s water out as she exits the bathtub. It’s just an unconscious, automatic response to what I’ve done my whole life. But how could I waste so much water?
I’ve been teaching my daughter about how precious water is—how the world experiences shortages of water all over the globe, and how we just take it for granted that we have so much of it available. (In kid terms, of course: “Some people don’t have much water. We are very lucky! How can we save the water we use?” Her favorite answers are to turn off the sink and to give the cats water from our glasses before bed instead of dumping it out.)
How can I teach her this, though, when I’m constantly wasting our bath water—a valuable resource—right in front of her eyes? It’s not bad water, either; though a kid, she doesn’t get that dirty (well, she actually had sawdust in her hair on this particular occasion…!), and like my bath products, hers are eco-friendly. So I made a quick decision to try a hand at using grey water, or recycled water.
I’m glad I did it, but it wasn’t that easy! I don’t really have any great containers for getting water out of a bathtub, after all, so I ended up using one of the big bins we use to store our yarn and other craft supplies. I had to dip it in and make several trips—more than a dozen, I’m sure!—and there was still some water left when I drained it. It was tiring, too, carrying the heavy bin out first the back door, then the front, to water various flowers, the compost, and eventually just the grass.
My daughter watched me with round eyes. “What are you doing, Mommy?” I smiled, though strained, with sweat dripping in my glasses. “I’m recycling your bath water, sweetie. Just giving the flowers a drink!”
She smiled. “Can I help you?”
I eyed her nightgown and the clock, in that order. “Hmm. It’s getting late. Maybe next time, okay?”
Next time, I will have to find something small for her to carry some water with—maybe her beach pail she uses for gardening?—because I know she’s going to love doing this. Of course, a siphoning device would be nice, too…