Friday, March 16, 2012

Water Conservation

Triathletes are generally the good guys of the sporting world (at least I like to tell myself that). We've got lots of reasons to take care of the environment and lots of different tools to do so.

For example, since we have bikes we are more apt to commute to work. Lots of triathletes, world wide, will double dip by getting their workout to and fro work. They exercise and save on gasoline all while reducing their carbon footprint.

While were on the topic of conservation, according to recent studies (most of which were performed by me), triathletes are more likely to purchase energy efficient vehicles. I have a hybrid. Rare (but not unheard of) is the triathlete that drives a Hummer.

We eat healthy. All-natural foods appeal to us. Low fat. Unprocessed. Non-smoking. We fit the bill.

See, we are better than the average snook. We spend lots of time in the world. We frequent the roads. We hang out on the trails. We are guardians of the sidewalks.

Given all of these eco-friendly characteristics, there is one category in which we are gravely lacking: water conservation. We abuse the hydrosphere with reckless abandon. Allow me to explain...

For the most part, we (read: me) are sweaty, smelly people. Training for copious amounts of time can do that to you (me). Thus far, there is only one efficient way to remove this stink- bathing. My bathing technique of choice is the shower.  As you may or may not know, showering requires water.

If you are really sweaty and smelly (meaning me), a 2 minute showed doesn't cut it. You (I) must bust out the luffa, lather up, and spend several minutes grinding and scrubbing every nook and cranny. This takes time. All the while, the shower head is faithfully spewing its extra-tepid water at the approximate rate of 2.6 gallons per minute. Assuming that we (I) limit bathing to just 10 minutes, this is roughly 26 gallons of water per workout.

This in and of itself is not so bad. Until you realize that we (I) often do more than one workout per day. Supposing that there's a morning run, that's 26 gallons literally down the drain. Then we (I) have an afternoon bike ride. There's another 26 gallons. So far today, we (I) have dropped about 430 pounds of liquid down the pipes.

There are several opportunities in which 2 showers a day isn't enough. Take, for example, the amateur athlete that has a full time job and an opening in his (my) schedule in the afternoons. This athlete, in my hypothetical may-not-have-happened scenario, skips the morning workout in exchange for additional sleep. When the lunch break arrives, it's off for a workout. Perhaps the local YMCA is close enough for a swim. Perhaps there is a nice running loop near the workplace. It's possible that there is a treadmill somewhere in the near vicinity.

This non-existent athlete wakes up in the morning and showers. +56 gallons. Now they (I) have an afternoon workout. In order to get back to work, there is an odor quota that must be taken care of. Another 56 gallons. Now, after the workday is done, the last workout of the day gets the typical triathlete (me) ready for beddy bye. Your (my) significant other will probably  forbid eating 'dinner' together until you (I) have been scrubbed clean. This brings the total up to 168 gallons of juice for the day.

If this is a typical day for (me) the typical triathlete, repeated 4 days per week, that's in the vicinity of 1000 gallons per week. This adds up to more than your typical backyard pool in terms of raw volume over the course of a year, solely in an effort to be less pungent. Keep in mind that this number doesn't even take into consideration how much fluid that we (I) consume during said exercise.

I suspect that the major reason that triathletes are so eco-friendly in other areas of life is guilt. We (I) try to over compensate for our (my) water consumption by being champion recyclers. By driving less. By being excessively healthy people. We (I) know that the amount of water used in keeping us (me) clean is enough to moisten a small country on another continent. At least we (I) smell decent.

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