Friday, August 28, 2015

10 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

By now, everyone knows that we are in a serious time of drought.  Who knows how long this could go on and what kinds of consequences there may be, but in California they are already feeling the repercussions of being frivolous with our precious water sources.  

And because three-quarters of the Earth is water, most people seem to have the mistaken impression that our water supply is endless, but that's what got us into this mess in the first place! However, of that, 97.5% of is salt water, leaving only 2.5% as fresh water. But then, crops consume a rather large portion of freshwater supplies leaving less than one percent (0.37% to be exact) of the Earth's  water for drinking. 

When you take into account mass pollution of our waters both accidentally and intentionally (billions of gallons of water are used in the fracking process every year which will forever be contaminated), it seems those numbers are seriously declining.

According to Planet Green, each person in the world is allocated 2.5 gallons per day; yet the average American uses an average of 400 gallons! Thirty percent of this is consumed by outdoor uses such as watering lawns and approximately 25 gallons are flushed down the toilet.

All this staggering information might make you feel it is hopeless.  After all, what can one person do to possibly make any difference?  The answer is PLENTY!

  1. Place a pitcher under the faucet to collect the water when waiting for a temperature change, rather than letting the water run down the drain.  This water can then be used to water houseplants, pets, etc.
  2. Same goes for the shower.  Place a bucket under the faucet to collect the running water.
  3. Take shorter showers and install a low-flow shower head.  Try to keep it to five minutes or less.
  4. Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth.
  5. Modify your flush habits.  Toilet flushing is the single largest consumer of household water. Americans flush a staggering seven billion gallons of water every single day.  That begs the question, is it really necessary to flush away every single little tinkle? As the old saying goes, 'Yellow let it mellow, brown, flush it down!'
  6. When you steam or boil a pot of veggies, that water can also be used to water plants, giving them a nice little boost of vitamins.  Of course, you'll want to let it cool first.
  7. Only run the dishwasher when full!
  8. Don't leave the water running as you hand wash dishes.
  9. Wash full loads of laundry. If possible, switch to a high efficiency washer which uses a fraction of the water that the standard machines do.
  10. Consider planting native plants in your landscape which do not require an excess of water beyond what nature provides.  This would include the type of grass you choose for your lawn. Better yet, forego the water-sucking lawn altogether and stick with more hardy plants and flowers.

If you are curious to see how much water you may be using per day, here is an interesting quiz you can take from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  The results for my household's estimated use was 118 gallons per day (we are a family of three).  A good number to be at is 40 gallons per person.  I would love to hear yours in the comments!

For those of you who want to really make a difference, you can install newer toilets which use 1.6 gallons compared to the 3-4 gallons used by older toilets.  You can also splurge on a new high efficiency washing machine which will use half or sometimes even less than the typical forth gallons used by older models. 

The main thing here is just to get into the habit of being mindful of how you use water.  If we all did this, it could turn around our situation rather than making it exponentially worse, so that none of us would have to concerned with a potential water shortage in our immediate future.


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