Occasionally, I like to take stock of our at-home conservation efforts and look for ways we can do better. Summer naturally makes me consider our water usage, because when the heat is so oppressive, I have to double my efforts to keep the ferns and our potted cat palm from catching on fire and dissolving into ash by afternoon. Rather than watering three or four times a week, from about June through September daily watering is in order. I grew up on a farm, which has informed many of my water saving efforts. Until I was in high school, we got our water from a cistern, so we were ever mindful of water usage. It affected everything from how we washed dishes (by hand in a double basin sink with one side filled and plugged for washing and the other for rinsing) to showering (you better be quick and don’t you stand in there with the water running) and flushing (without getting too graphic, let’s just say you don’t have to flush every single time. Do you know what I’m saying?). While it’s not as critical for us as users of “city water” — as we called it growing up — to be that hardcore, I’m leaning on those lessons from my childhood. For example, no more letting the water run while rinsing a dish if I turn around to stir a pot. The little changes add up, but I have a bigger change in mind for this summer. I’m working on getting a rain barrel through Green Light New Orleans.

Green Light New Orleans helps individuals and families create more sustainable homes by providing or assisting with energy saving lightbulbs, building backyard gardens and through its rain barrel program. With the addition of our own backyard garden, our water usage has increased, so we want to balance that out by catching rainwater from the roof runoff and devoting it back to the plants and veggies. According to the Green Light New Orleans website, “Rainwater is the ideal choice for watering plants because it’s free of chemicals. In addition to having a fresh water source for gardens and landscaping, the benefits of installing rain barrels include lower monthly water bills, reduced subsidence, less water in New Orleans’ stormwater system during heavy rainstorms [and] a beautiful piece of art in your yard or garden.” Sign me up! Homeowners can choose from four designs and the Green Light team will even install the barrel, as well as check in on it and offer advice. The website has all of the information you need about the process, including pricing, and an electronic application to fill out.  

This week I’m checking our downspout locations and taking a few measurements to find out if we have the space and correct size spout. Fingers crossed we’ll be watering the porch plants and garden with rainwater by or before August.

Do you have savvy water saving strategies to share or wonder how fast a person can shower and still get clean? Email melanie@myneworleans.com.