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The Water Bucket Challenge

You may have heard of the Ice Bucket challenge, an awareness and fundraising campaign for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) where people pour a bucket of ice water over their heads. Now, the GreenFriends North America team is asking you to take the Water Bucket Challenge!

What is the Water Bucket Challenge and how does it work? The challenge asks that you complete as many of your household tasks as possible in one day using a single bucket of water! This would include the water you use for drinking, bathing, cooking, cleaning dishes, brushing and flushing the toilet!

Girl carries water
Water, needed for the survival of all human beings, is a precious commodity. In many parts of the world, women walk an average of 10 miles a day to collect just 3 gallons of water used for all of their family’s drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, washing and other needs. Many young girls drop out of school to assist or take on this responsibility for the family.

Parts of Northern America have been under drought conditions for several years and the droughts seem to be lasting longer and becoming more widespread.

Becoming aware of our water consumption is both helpful to save the natural resources of Mother Earth and to increase our spiritual progress.

"The natural resources that we consume is the wealth that needs to be transferred to coming generations. If we mindlessly exploit the resources, we won’t be able to leave anything for our grandchildren.
- Amma


Even if you live in an area that receives ample rainfall and where groundwater supplies have not been depleted, the water you consume is not free. Electricity is used to filter it at the source, pump it to your home and clean the waste water generated by your home. The majority of the electricity in the world is still produced using natural resources like gas, oil or coal.

Recently, I decided to fill a gallon jug with water to use for my dish washing and hand washing needs. I was sure that I would be able to accomplish quite a lot within 1 gallon of water. To my surprise, I used most of that water to wash a few pots and dishes from just one meal! This exercise helped me to start noticing how much water I actually use in a day. I don’t have a dishwasher to use for dishes which is definitely more efficient than hand washing dishes.

How much water runs down the drain when I shower? How much water goes down the toilet each time I flush? Even if I close the tap while brushing my teeth, I still run the tap to collect water when washing my face or rinsing after brushing. While water collects in my cupped hands, more water runs down the drain. I read that Amma fills a glass of water and uses that water to brush and rinse instead of letting the tap run.

Use a glass of water to rinse your teeth

Modern toilets use around 1.6 gallons of water and older toilets can use around 7 gallons per flush! Having seen how little a gallon jug of water can accomplish, I measure everything in terms of gallon jugs. Each flush would require a 1.5 gallon jug. If I had to carry water into my home as some communities in drought stricken areas of the US have had to do, I would need to carry in 10 gallons of water a day just for my basic needs. On a recent trip to California, one way I saw to reduce the amount of water being flushed, is to use a water displacement bag (a special bag filled with water) in the tank or a simple bottle filled with water that keeps the tank from filling fully.

After my gallon jug experiment, I run taps on almost a trickle. I have started saving the final rinse water from my dishwashing and using it to soap the next set of dishes. If you have a garden, you could use non-soapy rinse water to water your plants or collect it to flush the toilet. Rain barrels could help collect water for outside use. Turning off the tap between soaping and rinsing during your bath or hand washing would save large amounts of water over the course of your life.

So…are you up for taking the Water Bucket challenge and becoming aware of just how much water your family and you use? We’d love to hear how it goes for you.

Please send us a brief line at info@greenfriendsna.org to share your learning or reflection after taking the challenge.

Vino - New England

Read about how to repair and reuse in the Q4 2021 newsletter >>


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