We recently returned from a trip to Baja. We had a great little house on the beach – sun, surf, and ocean at our doorstep. We loved the rustic simplicity of the house and the surrounding area but were taken aback to learn there is no local water distribution. Each house has its own holding tank. The water for the sinks, toilet, and shower is pumped from this tank which is filled by a truck that comes around now and then. The house instructions indicated no toilet paper was to go into the toilet (after a life time of city living this was a mind blower) and we should refrain from flushing until necessary. During our short trip we became acutely aware of how little water we really need. Seeing the level of water in the holding tank and the 5 gallon bottle of potable in the kitchen was a constant indicator about how much water remained for use – a different mindset than how much water we are using or thinking we are saving. We found ourselves using a fraction of the water we normally did – less for brushing teeth, washing dishes, taking showers, and rinsing things than I ever imagined possible.

Back home in Los Angeles we looked at our browning yard and wondered what to do. Like many we knew we couldn’t continue to keep our lawn green. Granted the “turf “was pushed out by invasive weeds some time ago so there was really no reason to continue keeping weeds green with our precious and diminishing water supply. So we shut down the sprinklers and committed to watering worthy areas by hand.

We keep a 5-gallon bucket in the shower to collect the water that would typically go down the drain while we wait for the shower to get warm enough to step under. We also keep a bucket in the kitchen to collect water from half full drinking glasses (who keeps leaving those around?), along with the water from boiling eggs or vegetables or pasta as well as the clean rinse water from the dishes. We water a different area of the garden each day with the collected water. We don’t have a green lawn but we are keeping select shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetable plants alive and truly enjoy our very local produce grown with un-wasted, reclaimed water.