One Thing You Can Do: Opt for the Carwash

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A trip to a carwash might seem like a water-wasting extravagance. But it’s better than the driveway alternative.

The most efficient way to wash your car “is definitely taking it to a carwash,” said Dean Minchillo, a water conservation program manager for Tarrant Regional Water District in North Texas. “Although most folks don’t think that way.”

Rinsing your car with a garden hose at home can quickly rack up 100 gallons of water or more, according to the Southwest Car Wash Alliance. The exact amount will vary, but just to give an example: a standard-diameter garden hose, 50 feet long, with average household water pressure will expel about 11 gallons per minute. If you have the hose running for 10 minutes while washing the car, you’ll use about 110 gallons of water.

Self-service carwash stations limit you to around 17 or 18 gallons of water. And most full-service stations average 30 to 45 gallons of water per car, according to a 2018 study by the International Carwash Association.

Many machine carwashes recycle and reuse water, which helps their bottom line, Mr. Minchillo said. And at self-service washes, high-pressure nozzles and timers keep water use to a minimum.

But the biggest reason to go to a carwash is to prevent pollution, Mr. Minchillo said. When you wash your car at home, all the dirt, oil, engine fluids, soapy phosphates and chlorides from the soap can run with the water into a storm drain and into nearby rivers and lakes.

Carwash businesses are supposed to collect the water they use when it can no longer be recycled and send it to a wastewater treatment plant, where the pollutants can be filtered out before the water flows into the ecosystem.

State and local governments in places like Washington and New York encourage residents to take their dirty cars to a carwash to prevent this kind of runoff pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency also recommends washing your car less often and having it done by a professional when possible. If you have to wash your car yourself, the agency recommends using a bucket rather than a hose.

You might want to call around to see if a carwash in your area participates in a WaterSavers program or has similar efficiency measures in place. You’ll be doing yourself, and your local waterways, a favor.


The world will need more copper, which is used extensively in wind and solar power systems, as it turns toward renewable sources of energy.

So, the United States must put all its copper deposits to good use — or so goes the argument for mining on the edge of the Boundary Waters, a pristine wilderness area in Minnesota.

Environmental groups have vehemently opposed a plan to do just that. And the Obama administration had moved to block the mining project, citing the risk of contaminating the region’s vast lakes and forests.

After all, activists say, tackling the climate crisis must go hand-in-hand with protecting vital ecosystems.

Groups that oppose the mine have also zeroed in on an unusual link between the family of President Trump and the Chilean family conglomerate that is planning the mine.

The billionaire patriarch of the family, Andrónico Luksic, also happens to be the landlord of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law.

Mr. Luksic’s company, Antofagasta, categorically denies any connection between the mining project and his relationship with the Kushners. A spokesman for Mr. Kushner’s lawyer said the rental and the Minnesota mine were “entirely unrelated” and that there was “no correlation in any way” between them.

My colleague Steve Eder and I tracked how, from the early weeks of the Trump administration, officials at the Interior Department worked to remove obstacles to the mining project. We examined government records and interviewed current and former officials. I also took a trip to Minnesota’s Iron Range and into the Boundary Waters (by dog sled).

You can read the article here.