Saturday, May 7, 2016

My dad's pretty smart

When my folks were here a couple of weeks ago, my dad talked quite a bit about water. He’s always been interested in water and water policy, and has always said that the good health we enjoy here in the US can be tied to our water supply getting cleaned up. In 2003 when SARS first made the news (remember SARS?), he said then that he’d bet real money that the spread of SARS would end up being traced to contaminated water in Hong Kong. He was right.

As you might remember from your college science classes, our planet is pretty much a closed system (opens as a PDF). The various components we have are what we’ve got to work with, and that includes water. I’ve always been puzzled how it is that some places run out of water when the amount of water stays roughly the same.

But when Dad was here a couple of weeks ago, he pointed out what happens when people drink from a bottle—whether it’s water or soda or juice—and don’t finish the bottle. What do you do? You put the cap back on, right? And toss the bottle with the remaining water or liquid trapped inside. So that water is effectively removed from our system. Multiply that by a bazillion people around the world who drink bottled drinks and you can see how our closed system might be losing water.

I knew my dad was a smart cookie but I have to say that simple comment about capping bottles* opened my eyes.

I started thinking about the vegetable waste we’ve been tossing in the trash—that vegetable waste is full of moisture and we haven’t been letting it get back into the system. We don’t put it down the disposal because our kitchen sink plumbing has a severe hairpin turn under the floor of our basement, and we’ve clogged the snot out of that pipe with predictably disgusting results. So we’ve been tossing carrot peels, strawberry tops, and all the rest of that kind of stuff in the trash.

Ready for the compost bin
So a day or so after my folks returned home, I started carting those bits of vegetable matter out to the closest of the three compost bins in our backyard. Now I will say, the previous owner did a lot of gardening and she clearly used those compost bins (and took the compost with her when she moved). We, on the other hand, have done nothing with them. I’m not sure we’ll do anything with the resulting compost except think of it as a buffet for the bunnies and squirrels in our yard. But at least this way, that moisture from the vegetable rubbish will be back in our closed system.

*The water bottle in the photo is probably four years old. I refill it every night and use it to fill up the cat fountain.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

It's distressing to me that people throw away bottles with liquid in them. I always empty them, just like I empty paper cups and milk cartons if the milk has gone sour.
Living in Ohio, we have problems with too much water in the wrong places. I've been reading a novel entitled The Water Knife about a future with no more water for Nevada, Arizona, and California, and it's making me want to read the old classic Cadillac Desert (which it mentions more than once). Having been through Phoenix and Tucson, it's easier for me to believe that water is a problem in some places. Today it's raining here, and the sump pump is working, and there are puddles in the yard.