Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kaitlin: Water: A Gift and a Blessing

From Kaitlin Torgerson, Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator:

For most of my life, I could be found from spring to fall on the beach or paddling one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. All through my childhood, I played in the sprinklers, ran through the slip ‘n slide, and had squirt gun fights. Water was everywhere, and I had an endless supply coming from the faucet or hose. Moving to Seattle this past summer didn’t change my perspective at all. It only took me from the lakes of Minnesota to the Puget Sound and rainy skies of Seattle.

I learned some water conservation from my parents to save on our water bill. I don’t let the water run as I brush my teeth or wash dishes. But honestly, that’s as far as I’ve ever gone and I thought it was good enough. My utilities have always been included in my rent and my water bill is this mysterious thing that I’ve never seen. This elusive bill has led me to sit quietly as one of my former roommates would turn the shower on just to add humidity to our dry apartment. I love long, hot showers in the morning and cool ones in the evening after exercising. I’ve become notorious amongst my current housemates for leaving half-filled water glasses throughout our house.

This winter, however, I was reminded that I live in luxury. My college roommate wrote from Kenya where she is spending two years teaching science for the Peace Corps. There she has learned conservation like she never thought possible. In particular, she’s learned to live off her allotted two liters of water a day for washing, drinking, and cooking. Two liters? Americans on average use 80-100 gallons of water a day and I am no exception.

My college roommate is now part of the one billion people who lack access to clean drinking water. Worldwide, 1.5 million children under the age of five die due to unsafe water and a lack of adequate sanitation and hygiene each year. The problem isn’t just outside this country either. Forty percent of America’s rivers and 46% of our lakes are too polluted for fishing and swimming. Massive withdrawals of water upstream keep rivers from reaching the sea.

I am part of this problem. I’ve become careless with the precious water that brought me into God’s family through baptism and washes away my sin. For Lent this year, I’m not doing my typical fasting from chocolate and soda. Instead, I’ll be giving up something that affects more than just my own body. I’m fasting from my careless use of water and treating it as the grace-filled gift God meant it as.

So what does this mean?

  • Cutting my shower by five minutes. No more lingering!

  • Installing a low-flow shower head

  • Showering less frequently

  • Always carrying my reusable water bottle with me

  • Flushing the toilet less. (if its yellow, let it mellow…)

  • Using nontoxic cleaning products

  • Praying as I wash my hands
Water is both a gift and a blessing; I want to respect it as such. Psalm 104 reminds me of my duty and responsibility to care for all of creation: “You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.” Our current conditions are not satisfying. It’s time for me to do my part.


Rockmaster said...

Would you consider extending your cow-hiatus past Lent when you think about the massive amounts of water beef uses (not to mention the environmental impacts of farmed meat)?


Rockmaster said...

Oops, I didn't read your previous post very carefully. You were already aware of that. :)