One of the most pressing issues that the United States and the rest of the world are going to have to face in the not so distant future is a shortage of clean water. We tend to think (especially us Americans) that we will always have access to clean water, both to drink and to use for things like bathing, watering the lawn and washing the cars.
However, if this past summer is any indication - remember the news story regarding a town in Tennessee where the mayor limited water supply to just several hours per day - it looks like we're going to have to deal with this issue much sooner than many of us had anticipated.
Now, before I get too far into a suggestion on a simple way for us to conserve water, I just want to take the opportunity to say that while some of you may turn your nose up to my suggestion, the Atlanta Falcons recently had to resort to this tactic for one of their home games during their recent drought.
So without further ado, here's the tip:
If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.
In less Dr. Seussian like terms, essentially I'm saying if you go number one, don't flush, but if you go number two flush.
In an attempt to get away from the subject at hand, let's look at some math to see how much water can actually be saved by implementing this idea.
Toilets built before 1982 usually use between five and seven gallons of water per flush, while newer toilets are required to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. For the sake of argument, let's assume that most toilets in the U.S. are newer, and that the "average toilet" uses roughly 2 gallons per flush.
From personal experience, I'd be willing to bet that the average person goes to the bathroom about six times per day; five times to go number one, and another time to go number two. Obviously, this is going to vary from person to person, but let's just stick with this guestimate.
So, if we followed the "if it's yellow, let it mellow - if it's brown, flush it down" mantra, the "average" person could save about 10 gallons of water per day. Multiply that by 300 million people in the United States, and that's over 3 billion gallons of water saved each day. Over a year, that's over 1 trillion gallons of water.
Even if you're dealing with the most abundant natural resource on the planet, that's a lot of water saved with very little effort.