With the possibility of a water shortage, every single drop counts. Follow these tips to ensure your household remains part of the solution.
We all know the world is covered with water, but did you know that only about 3% is actually fresh water, and less than 1% is suitable for our use? This, and the fact that the world’s population is growing every day, is the reason why we’re constantly being reminded to save as much of it as we can. And with occasional water interruptions, it becomes more apparent that we have to find ways to use water wisely to stretch the supply we do have.
Being responsible when it comes to water use starts at home, and here are only some of the ways you and your family can do your part.
1. Instead of taking long baths in tubs full of water, take quick showers. A five-minute shower with an average showerhead only uses up around 35 liters of water, compared to an average bath tub that can hold a whopping 80 liters.
2. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, washing your face, lathering up your hands, or shaving. Leaving the water running for 2–3 minutes wastes up to 7.5 gallons of water. This is a good thing to practice when you’re washing your hair or soaping up in the shower, too.
3. Fix any leaky faucet, pipe or toilet in the house. A faucet that leaks one drop per second wastes over 70 gallons of water a day. Here’s a tip for checking your toilet for a leak: put food coloring in the tank. If the water in the bowl changes color, you’ve got yourself a leak.
4. Low-flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets are a smart investment that may require you to spend a bit of money, but their long-term effects in making your home more water-efficient will be worth the cost.
5. On average, a single flush uses around five to seven gallons of water, so only flush if you have to. The “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule might be a bit off-putting at first, but you can always just keep the bathroom door closed, put the toilet lid down and open the bathroom windows to minimize smells.
6. The toilet isn’t a trash can. Avoid tossing toilet paper, cigarette butts, or your kid’s dead pet fish into it, as this will result to unnecessary flushing.
7. When washing the dishes, use a basin of water when rinsing instead of running them under the faucet. Same thing goes when washing your fruits and vegetables.
8. Don’t defrost frozen meats by putting them under running water. Take them out of the freezer hours before you use them and let them thaw in the fridge instead. This isn’t just water-friendly; it’s safer for your food, too.
9. When boiling food, pick the right size pot or pan. Too big and you’ll subconsciously fill it with more water than necessary.
10. Did you leave ice cubes or water in your glass after having a drink? Don’t toss them down the drain. They’ll be of better use to your thirsty plants.
11. Before filling up the washing machine, make sure you’re actually doing an entire load of laundry, not just a few pieces of clothing. Here’s another thing to remember: top loading washing machines use way more water than front loading ones, making the latter a better investment.
12. If you have buckets of wastewater left over from rinsing produce, soaking in the tub, or hand-washing clothes, don’t dump them right away. If they’re clean enough, you can use them for something else, like scrubbing the garage clean or flushing the toilet.
13. Use a bucket of soapy water when you wash your car, and only use the running hose for rinsing. This habit can potentially save about 150 gallons of water every time.
14. If your garage is still clean enough, sweep it instead of washing it.
15. Liven up your garden with drought-resistant plants, which require little watering during dry periods. While you’re at it, learn and practice the other basics of xeriscaping, the system of smart gardening.
16. Nourish your yard or plants using a watering can instead of a hose. This method can help you control how much water you use, and watering your plants too much can kill them, anyway.
17. Water your garden early in the morning, when the droplets won’t have time to evaporate under the hot sun. Avoid watering during windy days, too, so the breeze won’t carry the mist away from your plants.
18. Add a stone walkway to your garden. This lessens the grassy surface you have to water.
19. If you have rain gutters, you can collect the water from the rain into a vat and use it in various ways, like watering plants, cleaning the garage or driveway, and flushing the toilet.
20. Does your lawn have a sprinkler? Avoid wasting water by positioning it so the spray doesn’t reach the street, sidewalk or driveway.
These steps, no matter how small they seem, can contribute a great deal. Be sure to encourage others to do these in their homes as well.