Your Water Footprint

I was reading our Green Hotels newsletter yesterday and there was a short article on water footprints. We have all heard about carbon footprint but water footprint was new to me. Water is a resource that should be conserved. Some say water will be the next oil in terms of scarcity of fresh water supplies.

At Cedar House Inn we value water and try to conserve it as much as we can. Low flow shower heads and sink aerators have been installed in all bathrooms. Guest reminder stickers are in the bathroom asking guests not to waste water. We use low flush toilets throughout the property and have composting toilets that require no water. Guest bed and bath linens are not changed daily (unless requested) to save laundry water. An Energy Star washing machine and dishwasher have also been installed that use less water compared to conventional appliances.

In our owner’s area we have a bucket to catch the cold water coming out of the bathtub faucet prior to the warm shower water arriving. We use it to flush the toilet or water the plants. We also use the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” philosophy in our bathroom. I save my “liquid gold” for reuse as nitrogen fertilizer (see earlier blog post on this topic). We turn off the sink when we brush our teeth is another water saving tip. Such measures could lower your water footprint.

A few months ago we installed a new metal roof to capture rainwater more water footprint reduction with rain barrelsefficiently. We installed rain gutters and barrels. Our yard is a freedom lawn that requires no water. Native drought tolerant plants have been planted as well. This lowered our water footprint. For more eco friendly methods visit our web site.

In terms of shopping the Green Hotels article mentioned the water footprint of products we purchase. For example 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer, 132 gallons for 2 liters of soda, 500 gallons to make a pair of Levi’s stonewashed jeans. Even some foods have a higher water footprint depending on where they are grown and the type of plant.

I am not suggesting we give up beer or quit wearing bluejeans. I do think we all need to be more mindful of our water usage and water footprint.

The Green Hotels newsletter referenced an article on this topic published in Currents, The Wall Street Journal, 2/17/2009 by Alexandra Alter.

Backyard Wildlife Habitat

This post is about creating a backyard wildlife habitat in your yard.

When we purchased the house that is now the inn there were not many trees oncertified wildlife habitat the property. In fact shrubbery was also missing from the landscape. It looked like a Chernobyl waste site. Not a wildlife habitat!

Semi trucks and cars would actually park in the front yard to make cell phone calls or use our property as a rest stop. One gentleman drove his Cadillac up to the front door to make a cell phone call in his car. I asked him what he was doing and he said just making a phone call. I said this is my yard and he said it did not look like a yard.

I immediately knew what I had to do. Make a yard.

The sad thing was that the property not only lacked trees but also wildlife and birds. No sounds of birds singing in the spring. It was sad.

We immediately started planting well over 200 fast growing trees like hybrid poplars, hollies and silver maples. We also moved white and black pine trees from the woods. Fast growing shrubs were also planted.

Every trip to Home Depot not only meant purchasing what we needed but also a tree. We added bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths. Guess what happened?

The place became alive again with wildlife ranging from deer to all kinds of birds to possums and raccoons. Have not seen a bear yet.

We also decided to quit mowing most of the 3 acres. Now we mow near the entrance signs and house area. Native grasses and pine trees (that we moved) are now taking over and forming a buffer from the main road.

A friend of my wife’s called and expressed concern that we might be falling on hard times since we quit mowing the property. I informed her we were making our property greener.

We also have quit using synthetic fertilizers and herbicides(see other post on liquid gold). We have a natural lawn in the grass areas since we do not use chemicals.

Our property has been certified as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the Natural Wildlife Federation. Certification is free and can be done online. We have a sign at our gate indicating certification. The program was launched in 1973 and has certified over 106,000 yards, farms, schools and urban balconies.

For more information click NWF.

For more information about the green practices at our inn visit green.