I haven’t consciously thought about water as frequently as I have in the last four weeks. There has never been a time where I have counted the seconds it takes me to wash my hands or cringed at running water so much. This month has been long, informative, and pretty cold, but has been made me realize how much water people use on a daily basis. Bucket showering was definitely something I was dreading in September, but I have to admit I have learned to love them. I enjoyed being challenged by them and it has helped me tremendously to really appreciate having running water.
I think I have perfected the art of bucket showering. Here are some tips I have learned along the way:
- Hold the bucket up in the air as close to the shower head as you can while filling it up. Then the water will stay warm through the whole bucket shower
- Have a cup to pour the water from the bucket onto yourself.
- Have patience. Bucket showering is a very slow process. It takes much longer to wash shampoo out of hair when water pressure is pretty much non existent.
My roommates and I wanted to explore water conservation even beyond bucket showering. We wanted to start flushing our toilets with rainwater since it is available almost constantly in Sitka. Regular toilets use anywhere from 3.5 to 5 gallons of water every time you flush. Low flow toilets even use about 1.5 gallons of water. To harvest water we bungee corded five gallon buckets to the outside of our deck to catch rainwater, which worked perfectly at first. We took that water and transferred it into the bathroom to use for flushing the toilet. We learned that pouring water down the toilet quickly is enough to flush it. It took about a gallon of rainwater to do this. This was a foolproof system until the weather turned and Sitka had a week of beautiful cloudless days with freezing temperatures. We ended up with five gallons of ice. Even though there were some glitches in the system, we are excited to learn that harvesting rainwater is something we can continue to do throughout the year.
During this month of my water conservation challenge I have experienced a whole array of emotions towards the project. There were days where I really wished I never brought up the idea of bucket showers and other times when I thought I might be able to do this for the rest of the year. Overall, it has been a wonderful month that has brought our whole JV community together. It is very motivating to have a community of people supporting one another to accomplish this goal. It has taught me that these small acts can be done by anyone who wants to help conserve water or just challenge themselves. Although we live in a city where water is more prevalent than almost anywhere else in the world, water is still a precious resource. We have an outstanding opportunity to take our rainfall and repurpose it. There are places within our country’s borders that don’t have the luxury of a long shower because they live in drought stricken environments with no extra water to spare. I think we can empathize with them by trying to conserve water in our own community.
During this month of water challenges and research I have learned that it takes approximately 250 gallons of water to create 1 gallon of hot water. This gives the issue of water conservation a whole new dimension: energy. November will be a month of energy conservation for the JV House with plenty of candle making and headlamps. Look out for an update.
For Halloween this year, we asked the Sitka community to look at the Tongass, consider what they love about it, and use Halloween as a way to express the beautiful national forest that surrounds us by wearing Tongass-inspired costumes.
Clicking through the photos below, one can see the diverse ways kids represented the Tongass. Whether it be by dressing up as a Tongass critter, a float plane, or a fishermen, the Tongass supports the livelihoods and maritime culture of Southeast Alaska while inspiring us in creative ways.
Thank you to Old Harbor Books, Harry Race Pharmacy, and the Chocolate Moose for providing goodies, as well as SCS staff members Erin, Tracy, Courtney, and Andrew for handing out candy and smiling a whole bunch!
More than just timber and trails
Just about everyone who has visited Kruzof Island on the Tongass National Forest leaves knowing that they experienced a magical place. Most everyone realizes that even though they just visited an island within the borders of our Nation’s largest national forest, that forest is much more than just a source of timber.
The visitors and the Sitkans who spend time there know that the place is more than just its trails and cabins, forests and muskegs, rugged coastline and tide pools, brilliant scenery and world class hunting. Altogether, the ecosystems and landscape on Kruzof is the essence of Southeast Alaska’s coastal temperate rainforest ecosystem: a globally rare and unique ecosystem that is indescribably beautiful.
The Forests of Central Kruzof were logged in the past. To many, the scale and scope of logging were too much. To others, the logical was the logical use of the landscape. Today, we are charged with figuring out how we manage and take care of the Kruzof landscape and plan for the use of the land and protection of the cultural, wildlife, and aesthetic resources for future generations. Doing this right will require a holistic approach to take all of the island’s vital attributes and resource values into account. That is, we may be able to harvest timber from Kruzof but how much? At what scale? How fast? And how to best benefit our community. We will need to leave areas free from roads and timber harvest to protect vital habitat for spawning salmon, rutting deer, and fish-hungry bears. We will also have to invest and maintain recreational infrastructure for residents and visitors so that they can access and experience Kruzof Island and understand how special the place is.
To make sure the public lands of Kruzof are managed in the best way possible, citizens should be engaged in the planning processes that decide what will happen on public lands. They can do that by going directly to those who will decide, the US Forest Service. SCS is working with the local Sitka Collaborative Stewardship Group and the US Forest Service to give Sitkans an opportunity to brainstorm and give their ideas and input. Watch for meeting notices in early December 2012. For those who cannot attend a meeting in Sitka, they can contact: