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Action Steps | Sunday March 8, 2015

Taking Personal Action


Taking Personal Action



Conserving and Protecting the Sacred Gift of Water

Our water consumption is measured in three categories: home, agricultural and industrial. At home, the typical American uses up to 150 gallons of water daily in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and yard. However, most of the water we consume is hidden in what it takes to produce our food and consumer products. For example, it takes approximately 48 gallons for a bag of potato chips and a whopping 1500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. Water is required to manufacture our clothing (400 gallons for a cotton T-shirt), paper (2 gallons for 1 sheet), a pair of leather shoes (2114 gallons), and to produce steel for one car (32,000 gallons). It’s important to learn more about the water footprint of our food and manufactured goods. 

Close to a billion people live without access to clean, safe drinking water. Millions of women and children spend hours every day walking miles to collect water – 40 pounds strapped on their back– keeping them from school and work. In Tanzania, water use averages 2.7 gallons per day per person. 

Fresh water is growing scared. Estimates are that by 2025 two-thirds of us will be in water-scarce areas. The water crisis affects all of us. Watch the 4-minute story of “Charity: Water” to learn more

This Lent we are trying to make a difference by adapting a more just and sustainable lifestyle through voluntary Christian simplicity. Listed below are suggestions for using water in more thoughtful and conserving ways. 


If There’s Only One Thing You Can Do…

Ban the bottle. Give up bottled water this Lent (and beyond). This is an easy yet effective water-choice to live more simply and do less harm. The 29 billion water bottles (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/spacescience/water-bottle-pollution/) we use annually require millions of barrels of oil to make. It’s a waste of energy and resources to produce the plastic containers. Only 23% of them are recycled and it can take over 700 years for plastic to decompose. Instead, invest in a reusable aluminum water bottle. Watch “The Story of Bottled Water” (8 minutes).

In the Kitchen:

Wait until the dishwasher is fully loaded before starting; skip the pre-rinse cycle. Most automatic dishwashers use 9-12 gallons of water; Energy Star models average 5.8 gallons. Avoid wasting water by letting it run thoughtlessly during food preparation and cleanup. Put aerators on all faucets to reduce household water flow by 2 gallons a minute. Compost vegetable scraps, instead of using in-sink garbage disposal. 

In the Bathroom

Fix leaky faucets and toilets. 1 drip per second = 3000 gallons of wasted water per year.  Using a timer to reduce shower time by 2-5 minutes can save 1000s of gallons a year. Extra credit: install low-flow showerheads to decrease water use by 20-60%.Turning off water while brushing teeth can save 2 gallons per minute or around 8 gallons a day. Replace old toilets with modern low-flush models. For older models, add a toilet dam to reduce the flow by 35%. Keep water clean and safe. Household hazardous waste and pharmaceuticals thrown into the toilet make our streams unhealthy.

Doing the Laundry

Only run the washing machine with full loads – and use the coolest water possible. (This also cuts energy consumption, but, more about that next week.) Forgo harsh detergents and bleaches. Plus, eliminate toxic cleaning products in the home. Go natural; it’s easier on the clothes and the waterways. 


Watering the lawn? Practice sustainable irrigation and responsible lawn care. Don’t water in the heat of the day. Conserve. Sweep, instead hosing down driveways and sidewalks. Plant for low water usage – landscape with native plants. Have a conversation. Sports facilities use enormous amounts of water to maintain greens and fields.


In restaurants, only take water if you’re going to drink it. And say “no” to the lemon wedge…it adds unnecessary transportation mileage to your food footprint.  Purchase products with minimal packaging. 1 pound of plastic = 24 gallons of water! Most hotels offer the option of not washing and replacing towels each day. Consider it.

Imagine if the Earth were divided equally among all of us. Each person would receive 4.5 acres. Now imagine that everything you need – food, energy, home, clothing, gadgets – must come from those 4.5 acres. But it takes 22.3 acres to maintain the average American lifestyle.There is a new way of observing Lent that helps us care for God’s creation by taking steps toward using only our fair share of its resources. Moving in the direction of 4.5 is essential for anyone walking in the footsteps of Jesus today.

Our Ministry

Lent 4.5 is a seven-week faith formation program which inspires and informs Christian communities on how to use the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to protect God’s creation, embrace Gospel justice and nurture spiritual fulfillment. It offers practical opportunities for people of faith to apply the values of Christian Simplicity to their everyday lives.

This Week...

If There’s Only One Thing You Can Do …

Give up bottled water.

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