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As we near a time where technology has become commonplace in our lives, it doesn’t come without drawbacks. Simply put, our generation faces a climate crisis. Now, I know that we all hear “Climate Change is Real” and “The Ice-Caps are Melting”. So, I did not write this blog to inform you of the looming threat of climate change. Rather, my goal is to inform you of a solution to this looming threat.

Backstory:

I am currently a Junior in high school, but more importantly, I am a dedicated environmentalist, trying to do my part and encourage others to join me in stopping climate change. My mission is simple: to use technology and social media to show that our generations must come to terms with the inevitable drastic drawbacks of climate change.

Even recently, Camp Fire has decimated thousands of structures, displaced many more thousands of innocent citizens, and created one of the worst air qualities in California history. And evidence of the cause of these fires undoubtedly points to climate change.

Firefighters try to extinguish fires in Paradise, California

Now, as an everyday citizen, I don’t have the power nor do I have the influence to completely stop climate change. However, this does lead me to talk about what I have been doing for the past 4 years that has involved my fellow high schoolers to do my part in trying to stop climate change,

Water Project

It all started 4 years ago on a car ride to middle school. The radio was on, and I remember hearing the news anchor stating that teens were wasting water. Being a teen myself, I thought it was important to address this issue. After a great deal of research, I found a simple, yet an immensely useful device that can help save water all over California: a 5 minute sandclock

Here is the sand clock that I used to measure my shower time.

5 Minute SandClock

I envisioned an idea to use sand clocks to help my fellow schoolmates reduce their shower times. This experiment was performed to determine if using sand clocks while taking a shower would have a positive effect in reducing an individual’s shower time and consequently decrease overall water usage in a household. While creating this experiment, I proceeded to set up the experiment in a three-week trial.

The first week would have a participant shower without the use of the sand clock and the second and third week would have people shower with the use of the sand clock. I originally hypothesized that an individual who used the sand clock while taking a shower would save 25% more gallons than an individual who showered without the use of a sand clock. To gather a group of people who would be willing to take part in this experiment, I hosted an event at my school to publicize the importance of water conservation. Initially, I didn’t expect many people to show up and listen to my presentation. However, I was thoroughly surprised at how many people showed up: nearly 120.

Before I gave my presentation, several weeks of logistical planning went into hosting the event. I had to order the actual sand clocks that participants would be using and designing an informational card which gave a brief explanation of how to complete the experiment. Furthermore, as a way to constantly connect all the participants involved in the experiment, I created a Facebook group for this specific project. I frequently made posts and reminders to encourage and motivate the participants to take part in the experiment and continuously record their data.

Moreover, to observe if the sand clock created an impact on overall water usage, I made a Google form for members to fill out their daily shower times. On the informational card, I made QR codes for these specific links so people could easily scan these links and fill in their data on their phones.

I believe that the easier the process for an individual, the more responsive they are to take part in an experiment. As a result, I received numerous responses, which was a great indicator that there was great interest in the project.

In short, the use of sand clocks did make a huge impact on the reduction of shower times as I initially hypothesized.

When analyzing my data, I found that there was a decreasing trend in average shower times from Week 1 to 2 by 3.6 minutes and 0.72 minutes from Week 2 to 3. The data speaks for itself and it did, in fact, make an overall difference in reducing water usage in the household. For instance, with an average shower flow rate of 1.5 gallons/minute, for every shower that a participant took in Weeks 2 and 3, I can conclude that there would have been savings of nearly 6 gallons [3.96 * 1.5 gallons/min].

To take this calculation one step further, if a larger group of 200 students can reduce their current shower time by 3.96 minutes multiplied by showerhead flow rate of 1.5 gallons/minute and doing this for 300 days out of the year, a realistic amount of savings for one high school could amount to 356,400 gallons on an annual basis.

Although the above-mentioned savings are meant for a larger group than the one that participated in the trial that I conducted in my school, 200 students are only 8% of the current population of Irvington High School. Furthermore, if the interest response is larger than expected in Irvington, distributing sand clocks to other high schools will ideally yield the same response of lower shower times and hence reduce water usage in households.

Whether the California drought has completely stopped or is still ever present, the focus of this project has always been to integrate the sand clock in an individual’s lifestyle. This contributes to a sustainable state, and if a drought shall occur again, my aim is for people to readily use this device in reducing their water usage at home.

It is my hope to find an easier way to have a substantially easier way in monitoring shower times by implementing markers on the clock while keeping the cost to a bare minimum as well. Since this project is geared towards teenagers, another aspect that I hope to integrate is using more social media platforms to collect a higher amount of responses for this trial. I also hope to continually encourage and motivate everyone to think about the sustainability of the state in a long time and commit to water-conserving exercises.

Simple Water Conservation Techniques

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