Conserve water. It seems so simple and yet many times doing this isn’t on our minds.
World Water Day was this past Tuesday, March 22. Did you know that or even think about the water you use? This year’s theme is “groundwater,” and World Water Day has been marked since 1993 as a way to raise awareness about the importance of water (more than 2 billion people still live without access to save drinking water) and as a way to educate people how to conserve it.
The United Nations Water website says, “Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives.” Every time you turn on a faucet, it is groundwater you are seeing flow from the tap. Yet most of it take it for granted, that the water will always be there.
UN Water says that just because groundwater is out of sight, it must not be out of minds. As our climate changes and more areas face droughts and fires, the amount of groundwater lessens. Plus groundwater withdrawal rates has more than doubled since the 1960s due to population increases and growing demand.
And we use groundwater for things that we never consider. For example, do you know how many liters of water are used to make the pair of jeans you may be wearing? Approximately 7500 liters (or 1800 gallons) of water is used to grow the cotton that is used as the primary fabric, in the processing of the cotton into denim cloth and in the dyeing, and making the finished product shop-ready. This is why there is pressure on the apparel industry to find ways to conserve water and to create more sustainable practices. (You can read more about the dangers of fast-fashion, here.)
10 Ways to Conserve Water
So what are ways to conserve water—besides buying fewer pairs of jeans and other clothing items?
- Take a shorter shower and use a low-flow shower head. Even cutting your shower time by 2-3 minutes says up to 10 gallons of water per shower. You can also turn off the water flow while you soap yourself and turn it back on to rinse.
- Use a high-efficiency or low-flow toilet, which according to the Environmental Protection Agency can save more than 13,000 gallons of water per year. But if you don’t have money for a new toilet or don’t want to replace a perfectly functioning one, you can lower your water usage by putting a couple of bricks in the toilet tank or you can recycle a two-liter soda bottle by filling it with pebbles, marbles, or sand and recapping it. Position it away from the flushing mechanisms and these hacks can save up to 3,000 gallons of water each year.
- We can conserve water by turning it off when brushing our teeth or shaving. We can wet our brush or our razor then turn off the water and only turn it back on when we need to rinse the implements or splash ours face or wash cloth with water. This can save up to two to three gallons of water each day.
- Use your Energy Star washing machine on its shortest cycle (and wash on cold as that says energy too) and only use when you have a full load.
- Use your Energy Star dishwasher on its fastest, least water using cycling. And only run it for full loads.
- You can garden smarter by replacing water hungry lawns with drought-resistant plants and natural grasses. And when you do water, use rainwater or recycled water from your shower or kitchen sink (by keeping a bucket in the shower to collect the water and a pot or big bowl in your sink basin). If you have a lawn, adjust the mower height to 1.5 to 2 inches as the taller grass will shade the roots and hold moisture better than short grass so it will need less water. Also consider adding two to four inches of mulch around plants to retain water.
- When you wash your car, if you do it by hand use a bucket with soapy water as opposed to spraying it from a hose and then use the hose for rinsing (and if you live somewhere you can wash your car on your lawn, do that and let that rinse water do double duty.)
- Use a broom to clear sidewalks, driveways, and stairs instead of a hose and water.
- Don’t let the faucet run while you wash dishes by hand or scrub veggies. Instead, partly fill a bowl with water and use that water to wash the things you want to clean. And then use the water leftover to water the garden.
- Use your garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost your kitchen waste, which will save gallons.
These tips will help you save water every day and will lower your water bills. But there are so many other ways to conserve water. How do you do it? Write your best tips to conserve water in the comments section.