Why save water? Water might seem like a renewable resource. Water evaporates and forms clouds. Then it rains and water returns to the earth. It doesn’t necessarily turn up where we want it. As you read this, chances are somewhere in the world is suffering from prolonged drought while somewhere else has to deal with massive flooding.
Water, water everywhere (nearly). But in fact, the earth has only a finite amount of water. Nearly all of it is saltwater.
It’s true that we use and reuse fresh water all the time. A water treatment plant takes water from a lake or river, purifies it, and sends it to our homes and businesses. When we’re through with it, it goes to a wastewater treatment plant, and from there back to a river or lake.
Modern water treatment adds some complication to the natural water cycle. It takes a lot of chemicals to make water safe to drink. It also takes a lot of money and energy to treat and distribute water. Especially when it’s necessary to pump it uphill.
When we waste water, we also waste all the effort, energy, materials, and money that went into purifying it.
Conserving water doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 10 easy ways to save a lot
1. Beware of running water
Whenever water comes out of the tap and goes directly down the drain, the money you pay on your water bill goes down with it. So don’t use running water if you don’t have to.
- Turn the water off while you brush your teeth or wash your hands.
- Wash produce in a bowl of water instead of under running water.
- Thaw food in the refrigerator overnight instead of under running water. Granted, thinking that far ahead isn’t always easy. But if you run water to thaw food, you have to run the tap for several minutes.
- Rinse dishes in a sink or tub of water. Better still, when you hand wash, fill a large bowl or tub with dishwater instead of the sink. Why? Read on
2. Use greywater to water plants
Greywater means water that has been used for something. It includes bathwater, mop water, and those tubs of water you just washed and rinsed your veggies or dishes in.
You wouldn’t wash with it or cook with it, but the “impurities” can make your houseplants—and even garden plants––thrive. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” works for water just as well as for anything else.
3. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator
Most people would rather drink cold water than lukewarm water. Running tap water for a while might make it colder. But, of course, you waste all that water that goes down the drain while you’re waiting.
Reaching into the fridge gets you colder water faster. And none of it just runs down the drain.
4. Use the same glass for drinking water all day
The more people live in your house, the more water this tip will save. If you have several glasses of water a day and use a clean glass for each one, your dishwasher will fill up faster. You’ll have to run it sooner.
Now, running the dishwasher can use less water than washing by hand, but it saves water to run it as infrequently as possible.
5. Use the garbage disposal as little as possible
The garbage disposal is a quick way to make waste disappear. At least it keeps food waste out of the landfill. To save water as well as landfill space, compost all the plant-based waste instead. You probably can’t compost if you live in an apartment or townhouse. Otherwise, you can.
6. Install water-saving fixtures
If you live in an older home, you can save a lot of water with low-flow fixtures.
Modern building codes require low-flow toilets. They use about a gallon and a half of water per flush. Toilets in older buildings may use up to five gallons. In that case, buying new toilets will pay for themselves very quickly in reduced water bills.
But don’t stop there. Install low-flow shower heads. Make sure all your faucets have aerators. Less water will come out of them, but with just as much force and power as the old fixtures.
7. Don’t use the toilet as a trash can
It can be convenient to throw something in the toilet and flush it instead of carrying it to a garbage can or compost pail. But it uses a lot of unnecessary water. It can also harm your entire plumbing system and maybe do damage beyond it. In fact, plenty of different materials should never go down the toilet.
8. Watch out for leaks
Leaks waste water even more than unnecessarily running water. At worst, they can rot cabinets and flooring.
You can easily test for leaks in the toilet by putting food coloring in the tank. Let it sit for a while. If you see food coloring in the bowl, call a plumber.
9. Dig up grass
If you use your yard to play badminton or croquet, you need a nice grass lawn. Not as many people play those games anymore. Chances are, the only time you walk on your lawn is when you mow it.
You can find plenty of lawn alternatives that need less water than grass. Plant trees, shrubbery, vegetables, flowers, or groundcover. Not only do you save water by not having to water the grass, but you also save time and effort.
10. Prefer native plants
Nurseries can sell you plants from all over the world. Plants native to your area are adapted to the rainfall in your area. If you live in a drought-prone area, native plants can survive it longer than plants that require abundant water.
It’s hard to manage what you don’t measure. Use this water calculator to measure your water footprint. NEW TAB
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