In our developed country, sometimes it can be hard to remember that water conservation is an important part of keeping our resources sustainable as the global population grows. And although our blue planet is covered in water, less than one percent is actually available to us for consumption. And that limited resource is an important one to conserve if we plan to continue living healthfully for years to come. By making simple changes to our habits we can all do a small part to make a big impact on our life-preserving water supply. Let’s take a look at a list of simple ways each one us can do our part to conserve water and help preserve this precious resource.
Turn off the tap
We often leave water running while we are brushing our teeth or washing dishes, but simply turning off the tap between wetting that toothbrush or rinsing that dish can save gallons upon gallons of water. And this same rule goes for hand washing. Turn off the tap while you work up a lather, and you’ll be saving more water than you think.
Take a shower
It may seem counterintuitive, but showering actually uses less water than taking a bath. And using a low-flow showerhead can reduce your use even further, allowing you to save on your monthly water bill while also saving the planet. Using a low-flow showerhead can save you up to 15 gallons of water during a single 10-minute shower.
Leaky faucets are more than a simple annoyance. Faucet leaks account for gallons of wasted water. Even one drip per second can account for over 1,500 gallons of water wasted in just a single year. So grab that toolbox and fix up those drips. Toilet leaks are even greater culprits, wasting up to 200 gallons of water per day. And don’t forget to check the perimeter of the home. Outdoor hoses, faucets, and pipes may have leaks that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Although xeriscaping is picking up in popularity (especially in arid and temperate zones) and is an exceptionally water-wise method of maintaining a home’s landscape, many of us still enjoy flowerbeds and vegetable gardens in our back yards. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still be water wise in our gardening efforts. Get flow meters for your garden hoses so you can know how much water you are using every time you water the lawn and garden. Dawn and dusk are the most efficient times to water, when the effects of evaporation brought on by a hot midday sun can be avoided. You can also avoid watering altogether by filling your home and outdoor spaces with elegant, artificial greenery.
Retrofill your tank
The majority of water used within a home is due to the flushing of toilets. By doing something as simple as placing a brick in your toilet tank, you can displace water and reduce the amount that is used during a normal flush. Low-flow toilets are also a popular way of reducing water use, and there are many Energy Star models available. Toiletrated will tell you the best low flow toilets. You can find more information about Energy Star brands and certified products at energystar.gov.
Turn off that hose
Washing your car with a hose can waste up to an impressive six gallons per minute. So grab that sponge and a bucket and turn that hose off while you’re working up those suds. If you need to use a sprinkler, consider one with a built-in timer, or watch your watering times carefully. Just like garden watering, it’s best to water your grass early in the morning or later in the evening to get the most bang for your buck.
Don’t do those dishes yourself
Fortunately for those of us who are pressed for time, hand-washing dishes isn’t the most water-wise household solution. Dishwashers do, in fact, typically use less water than hand-washing. And many dishwashers now come with an eco-friendly cycle for light loads that can help you conserve water when not washing those heavy-duty pots and pans. Only running your dishwasher when it is full will also help you conserve water over time.
Finagle your food prep
When washing fruits and vegetables, opt for using a pot full of water instead of letting the water run consistently throughout the process. And instead of using a garbage disposal, consider composting your table scraps instead. Make water left over from rinsing fruit and vegetables do double duty by using it to water your house plants. When defrosting food, avoid using running water and put food in the fridge instead.
When washing your clothes, take time to match your water level to the size of the load you are washing, and use cold water whenever possible to help you save energy as well. Many washing machines have water savings built in that can save up to 20 gallons of water per load. Additionally, towels and many other items of clothes can also be reused more than once, so be choosy about what goes in that laundry bin.
Insulating household hot water pipes can also help save water by expediting the time it takes to heat up water, allowing you to turn off that tap faster. This can help raise the water temperature by up to four degrees compared to uninsulated pipes. Make it a point to check house pipes routinely and look for leaks that may be costing you as well.
Eat and travel sustainably
We don’t often think about how what we eat affects our water usage, but in truth some diets use more water than others. For example, one of the quickest and easiest ways to lower your water usage is to lower your consumption of meat and dairy. Buying local also cuts down on water usage, and there are often water costs hidden in methods of transportation, such as water used in the gasoline production process. Your own commute requires water as well, and the same goes for your airplane travels. A gallon of gasoline can take up to 14 gallons of water to produce, therefore you can help save water by carpooling, limiting flights, taking public transportation, and bicycling or walking to nearby destinations.
Author Bio: Miguel Bautista has been the owner of Ranka Lasting Greenery (Max Kaiser) for over 13 years. He is certified with both the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects). Ranka is the next generation of decorative landscaping. This decorating solution is eco-friendly and practical, as it requires no water, no fertilizer, and no pruning. For more eco-friendly design tips, follow his blog.