More than 70% of our planet’s surface is covered in water. About 97.5% of that water can be found in seas and oceans, around 2.5% can be found in ice caps, and less than 1% is the fresh water we depend on. We depend on water not just for drinking, but also for washing, livestock, farming and the production of everything from clothes to food, and while population and demand of freshwater resources are increasing, supply will always remain constant.
Although agriculture and business account for a large portion of water consumption, residential usage is also substantial, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day.
Most of us have gotten so used to turning on a tap and having unlimited access to water, that we’ve come to take this precious element for granted, not even realizing how much of it we waste on a daily basis.
Here are ways to limit your use.
Turn off the tap
How many times a day do you turn on the tap in the bathroom or in the kitchen to wash your hands, your teeth, or dishes, before you’ve even put toothpaste on your toothbrush, got a hold of the soap, or started scrubbing a plate? You may not realize just how much water is running down the drain and being wasted while you get ready to actually use it. According to the EPA, bathroom faucets run at about two gallons of water a minute, and simply keeping the tap off while you brush your teeth or shave, could cost you as much as 300 gallons of wasted water a month!
Be sure to do everything you can (applying toothpaste, lathering your hair, chopping vegetables, scrubbing dishes etc) before you open the tap, and if you need extra water, for example to rinse your razor after you shave, be sure to plug up the sink. That way, the water you use to wash your face could be used a second time to clean your razor. Double-dipping could also be used when washing dishes by hand. If you have a dual sink fill one sink with hot soapy water for washing, and use the other for rinsing. If you don’t have a dual sink, then fill two large bowls. This will be far more efficient than leaving the water running the whole time you do the washing up.
Leaky taps may seem to loose just a drop of water here and there, but if you actually put a bucket underneath them, you would soon realize that over time those drops will easily fill up the container. Studies have shown that a slow drip from a leaking faucet can actually waste as much as 20 gallons of water a day! Think about how much water you may be saving by simply tightening a loose tap, or doing a minor repair. If you think that 20 gallons a day is a lot, then know that a leaky toilet can actually waste as much as 200 gallons!
Check your toilet
If the toilets in your home were installed before 1990, there’s a chance they could be using anywhere from 3.5 to 7 gallons of water with every single flush. Install a dual-flush system or invest in a water-saving bag.
Change the way you shower
We won’t tell you to stop showering completely, but be mindful that a standard shower head uses about 2.5 gallons of water per minute, this is 50% or less the amount of water used when taking a bath. Bathtubs hold on average around 36 gallons of water, which means that if you keep your shower to 14 minutes or less (we recommend you set a timer and keep showers to a minimum of 5 minutes or less), a shower will always use less water than if you took a bath.
Other than cutting down showering time as well as the amount of showers you take a day/week (showering everyday isn’t that great for your skin anyways), you could also switch to a more efficient shower head. Consider for example getting an aerated shower head (which combines water and air) or inserting a regulator in your shower that puts an upper limit on flow rates.
Again, when you are not actively using the water (while you soap up, shave, wash your hair) try switching the water off. If you’re used to letting the water run for a while and only get in once it’s reached the right temperature, then how about collecting the water that runs before you get in? It’s perfectly good water that could easily be used to water plants or to clean floors!
Wash with full loads
Run your appliances efficiently! Washing machines and dishwasher should only be run when completely full. Clothes washing accounts for more than 20% of residential indoor water use. Washing a full machine load of clothes will use less water and energy than doing two half loads of laundry.
If you have a garden there are plenty of ways you could save water without compromising your green vision. First of all, install native plants which generally require less watering than non native plants. Secondly, if you have a small garden, consider hand watering as households that do, use an average of 33% less water than those that use an automatic irrigation system. Water in the early morning or at the end of the day to stop water immediately evaporating in sunlight and heat before in sinks it. Find ways to collect rainwater to use for the plants or to wash outdoor floors, and if you have a pool, cover it up when not in use. This will not only help retain the pool’s temperature, but it will also reduce evaporation.
Food and clothing
Your choice of food and clothing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about saving water, but they are both industries that greatly utilize water in their production. Agriculture in fact accounts for 65% of the world's freshwater, and the fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply.
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