Water. The true elixir of life. Here are some common sense tips that can help to reduce water use on the individual/household level:
- We have all heard it before, but I will say it again – if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow. This advice is sage even after all these years. After all, in many (if not all) parts of the developed world, you could drink the unused water from your toilet. It sounds gross, but it’s true. There is really no reason for this. No one I know has to rely on their porcelain throne to get a glass of water, nor would they want to. We have faucets for that. Still, that water is drinkable. Until this changes, consider flushing less freely.
- Use your dish water to water the plants. Not only do you get to save a bit of water, but your plants enjoy a good soaking and the dish water acts as an organic pesticide. Just be sure not to use water that has too much grease or additional chemicals in it. Water that was used to cook food (noodles, hard-boiled eggs, etc.) can also be used – just make sure that is completely cooled before watering the plants!
- Learn to load your dishwasher the right way and run it only when it is completely full. The benefits are many. You will need to run the dishwasher less frequently which will save both water and electricity – i.e. money. The dishes will also be cleaner due to the freer flow of water and improved operation of the dishwasher.
- If you do not have a dishwasher, consider investing in a bucket for soaking your dishes before washing them. It will cut down on the amount of work needed to actually wash the dishes and reduces the need for using running water during the washing process. It also makes it easier to water the plants (see #2).
- Stop buying bottled water. This may sound a bit odd because you’re drinking water either way. However, by choosing to use reusable bottles, the amount of water needed during the plastic bottle production process is completely negated. As an added bonus, fewer plastic bottles in the world.
- Steam your veggies instead of boiling them. Steaming retains nutrients and only uses a couple inches of water. This also requires the amount of energy required to heat the water. Who wants to give those pesky utility monopolies any more of their hard-earned money?
- It takes a whole lot more water to fill up that bath tub than it does to take a shower. So try saving the bubble baths for special occasions. If you can handle it, try showering less as well. For most people a shower (or more) a day is unnecessary – even if it is a culturally engrained habit.
- Choose native plant species when planning your landscape. They are more adept to handle the natural conditions of your area. This also allows for a reduction in the use of pesticides and herbicides which means less chemical run-off which results in an overall decrease in the adulteration of the water system (see: eutrophication, choking the life out-of-body of water near you?).
- Pick a meal every now and then (or more often if you can handle it) to swap your meat for a non-meat alternative. I am not talking about swearing off all-beef burgers, but give other options a chance – they may end up becoming a favored part of your dietary repertoire. If that is just not an option, trying eating more chicken or fish. The ratio of protein produced to the amount of feed required to produce a pound of flesh is significantly closer to 1:1 as beef or pork.
- Fix your leaky faucet(s). It may only seem like a few drops, but those drops add up – in terms of wasted water and charges on water bills. Plus, dripping faucets are annoying.
- Tightly group your landscaped plants. It will prevent water from evaporating too quickly and showcase your gardening skills.
- Consider collecting rainwater. It is a great way to water a small garden without ever having to turn the hose on. (Please note: this may not be legal where you live or you may have to pay taxes. I strongly suggest a bit of research before purchasing your rain water bin.)
- Soak your vegetables and fruit when cleaning them. They will still be just as clean without the need for continuously running water. As an added bonus, the water used to clean the produce can be used to water any thirsty houseplants