The back porch pots are filled with plants that flower year-round, like the society garlic my housemate likes to pick to put in his grandmother's sherry glasses. (Buck Bagot/KQED)
The back porch pots are filled with plants that flower year-round, like the society garlic Kat’s housemate likes to pick to put in his grandmother’s sherry glasses. (Buck Bagot/KQED)

Mint plants. I love mint plants.

It’s being a child of Oregon, wandering out to pick mint leaves in the angled morning sun and chewing them while wild rabbits hop around the yard.

But here in the California drought, my mint plants are getting thin and spindly.

I refuse to water the plants we keep on the back porch, since I believe farmers and salmon deserve the water more than my plants. The whole house is in on this; we’re turning off the shower when we soap up, we’re letting it mellow, the landlord is even researching rainwater catchment.

Every time I use water I ask myself how I can use less, and that’s how I came up with the answer for my mint plants.

It always takes five or 10 seconds for the shower water to heat up. How about we capture that water in a bucket and use it to water the plants? Even with just five seconds’ worth of water a day, we get enough for all the houseplants, front and back porch plants and the lettuces I’m about to plant.

You could also pour this water into the dog bowl or use it to wash dishes.

If you want to try it, get a bucket with a handle and a spout for easy pouring.

(Your bathroom’s not big enough to store a bucket? Talk to the hand! I live in San Francisco, where kitchens are the size of bathrooms and bathrooms are the size of twin beds.)

How are you saving water during the drought? Share your stories on our State of Drought Tumblr or email Olivia at

Water-Saving Tip: Keep a Bucket in Your Bathroom 19 March,2014Kat Snow

  • TJ

    You could also use the water (once you have enough) to either flush your toilet directly by pouring it into the bowl (had to do that in India and it worked!) or by pouring it into the tank during filling post-flush. Also assumes the water is fairly clean if pouring into the tank.

  • I don’t quite understand how talking to the hand will solve the issue.

  • Sharlene Gearhart Evans

    I do this every morning with my shower water too!!! And my bucket is almost the same color of blue too! hahahahaha We are in the process of finding a rain barrel. I save the clean cold water that comes out of the tap till it turns warm. About 3 gals a day. And, I turn the shower head off while I soap up. We use the water for our dogs and watering the patio plants. I haul the bucket out and my hubby uses the water and puts it back into my bathroom for a refill the next morning!



Kat Snow

Kat is a 25-year veteran of public broadcasting and an award-winning reporter and editor. She's been at KQED since 2002, and before that was a reporter and news director at KUER in Salt Lake City, and a freelance reporter in Oregon. She's written for Newsweek and The Atlantic, in addition to her public radio credits. She also coaches reporters and others in embodied narration and public speaking. Outside of radio, Kat loves conscious dance and is a Certified Teacher of Soul MotionTM.

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