Of all things in nature, perhaps water is what we take most for granted. It flows so freely for our everyday needs; does it even need a second thought? Simply put, I think most of us do not fully respect water. The ease with which we consume water for showers, baths, hand-washing, cleaning, car-washing, etc., is a luxury. A luxury that many people feel entitled to but also that many people on our globe do not have. What if the access you currently have to water was threatened? Well, it just may be. Unfortunately, the correlation between climate change and water creates a negative domino effect.
Water & Climate Change
1) Emissions (aka Greenhouse Gases, aka GHGs) are released from oil/gas extraction, vehicle emissions, agriculture practices, and pumping trash into landfills
2) The heat in earth’s atmosphere begins to rise
3) Oceans absorb more GHGs and water temps rise, then ice melts
A) Increase in natural disasters (hurricanes, typhoons, floods)
B) Rising sea levels (salt water) which can threaten our freshwater supplies
C) Eroding soil decreasing farming and habitability of land near water
D) Warmer airs sucks up more water, leaving less for us
So, I want to challenge you to consider water a precious commodity, not just an automatically available resource.
Here are 20 things you may or may not have thought of to help you better respect and conserve water.
1. Use Non-Toxic Pesticides and Herbicides
Deadly chemicals from pesticides and herbicides go into our soil. Then via rain run off into our waterways. Then into our water treatment plans. Then right back into our water supply. EWWWWW! Caring about water starts with caring about what you put into the ground. Period.
2. Use Non-Toxic Cleaners and Detergent
Same issue. Contaminating water on its way out of your home will ultimately affect what ends up back in your home. Did you know that EPA.gov has a Toxic Release Inventory, which tracks 770 chemicals released into the air, water, or land that cause human problems such as cancer and congenital (from birth) disabilities? Some harmful released chemicals include nicotine, bleach, nitrates, ammonia (hair dyes), and much more.
3. Turn Shower Off When You Lather Shampoo/Conditioner
I have very long hair. It takes FOREVER to lather the shampoo bar through my hair. During this process, I used to stand back away from the water while it ran as I lathered, but now I turn it off. If it takes 2 minutes to lather your hair, that saves 5 gallons of WATER! And that’s if you have a low-flow showerhead.
4. Dispose of Hazardous Household Waste (HHW) Properly
Did you know that putting these items in your trash puts dangerous pollutants into our lands and water?
- Drain cleaners
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- eWaste (electronics)
- Oven cleaner
Reducing the use of HHW would be the first step; here are some ideas for reducing hazardous household waste.
5. Don’t Waste Good Water
Catch excess water in the shower with a bucket, save water from boiling pasta or potatoes, buy a rain barrel, dump unused ice from your cooler into plants or bushes, save water used to wash fruits and veggies, or put soapy water from washing the car in the yard. Get creative and think twice before you dump any water down the drain.
Action item: Wash your fruits and veggies in a colander over a large bowl to catch the excess water.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”
6. Turn the Water Off, Pretty Please?
Turn the water off when you are: washing your hands, brushing your teeth, shaving, and when you are washing dishes. Don’t let it just keep running and running. This article, called “Every Drop Counts,” states that a 6-second water rinse uses less than 1/4 a gallon of water, whereas a 20-second water rinse uses 3/4 of a gallon of water. Turn it off, water you waiting for?
7. Plant Appropriate Plants for Your Climate
Research the hardiness of your plants by zone. If you plant something that needs more moisture in a hotter/dryer climate, you’ll expend more water to keep it alive. Here’s an article from Better Homes and Gardens, “How to Use Hardiness Zones for Plants to Decide What to Grow,” that may help. Another thing to consider is planting local pollinators to keep the bees happy and thriving. Bees like to ‘shop local’.
8. Run the Dishwasher Only When Full
Running the dishwater half-full wastes water certainly. So fill it up. However, you want to ensure you space all the dishes properly so that the water can effectively reach the surface area of everything. Also, the dishwasher uses less water than hand-washing dishes in most cases. Lastly, if you’re remodeling, consider an Energy Star option; here are some eco-friendly dishwasher options from Consumer Reports.
9. Buy Less Stuff
Growing cotton to make clothing or textiles uses tons of water. It takes twice as much water to create plastic water bottles than the bottles contain! Also, according to the Water Footprint Calculator, creating one piece of paper uses 1.3 gallons of water, H2Ouch! Our material world needs water to go around. Use fewer materials and save water. Bada bing, bada boom.
10. Use a Broom to Clean Driveways or Sidewalks, Not a Water Hose
Patios too! Using the broom over the hose saves water without question. Then you can use water after you’ve removed leaves and loosened dirt if necessary.
11. Educate Yourself about Water & the World
According to The Water Project, 1 in 9 people globally have no access to clean water. Access to water improves health, education, poverty, and hunger. Learn more about you can help with the global water crisis. Understanding that water is a precious commodity and not readily available for all is the first step in improving your overall respect for this life-giving resource.
12. Adjust Your Mower Height for Longer Grass
Taller grass holds more water. Longer grass shades the ground underneath, keeping it cooler and from drying out. Plus, the shorter your grass blades, the more sun exposure it gets, which can burn the grass, thus provoking you to water more. Don’t forget to aerate your lawn so the moisture can get deeper in the roots instead of running off.
13. Turn Off the Automatic Sprinker in the Rain
Most people set their sprinklers to run automatically. But if it rains, do you pause it? Did you know there are smart meters you can add to your sprinkler that sense rain? We use Rainbird. Therefore it automatically pauses during rain. Automatically running your sprinkler after recent rain is wasteful. We don’t have a grass lawn, but we have a drip line to water our foundation because, in Texas, it gets scorching, and the ground cracks (compromising the home foundation). The same rule would apply here; you wouldn’t need to water the foundation after a good rain.
14. Shower Over Bath?
Yep. A shower uses less water. According to Take Care of Texas, on average, a shower uses 25 gallons of water, and a bath uses 50 gallons. I love a good bath, so save it for a special occasion. Also, maybe don’t fill up the tub all the way. Lastly, see if you can shave only a minute or two off your shower. That saves two days of drinking water for one person!
15. Limit Fat, Grease, and Oils You Put Down the Drain
These items cause tons of harm, from increased demand on wastewater cleaning plants to sewage blockages. You may also save money by saving yourself from a plumbing emergency in the future.
16. Pick Up Your Dog’s Poo
Dog waste can contribute to bacterial pollution in waterways. If you’re traveling with your dog, it’s best not to deposit the waste directly into a water source. Keeping it out of waterways is good, but depositing it in a landfill is likely only better if it’s in a biodegradable bag. Here are a few good doggy poo bags recommended by TreeHugger.com.
17. Use Glass Bottles to Bottle Your Water at Home
Plastic water bottles not only contain water but also waste a ton of water in manufacturing. The actual water consumed for one plastic water bottle is 1.4 gallons! Filling up your bottles at home saves water and is better for your health since PET 1 plastic won’t leach into your drinking water. Also, IDK why, but water from a glass container is 10x yummier (try it and see)!
18. Water your Plants before 10 am and after 4 pm
Avoid watering your plants during the hottest part of the day. If you water in the morning or the evening, the soil will stay saturated for longer. Good news! Doing this can increase the time between re-watering, thus saving you $$$. Check out these plant watering tips. Did you know you’re supposed to soak dry soil slowly?
19. Switch to Water Efficient Water Fixtures
The EPA.gov sponsors a program called WaterSense. You can use a WaterSense Calculator to see if you can save money in your home by updating your toilet, facets, or water heater to more energy-efficient products. These new items use less water or pressure, re-circulate water, or make water hot faster. Not only will more efficient household fixtures save water, but they will also save you money (water & energy bills)!
20. Reduce Food Waste
Reducing food waste is an indirect way to save water, but certainly not less important. Agriculture takes a lot a lot of water. Whether watering crops or giving water to animals, decreasing food waste is a win for water conversation and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., methane from landfills). Check out these tips to reduce food waste from StopFoodWaste.Org.
We are all responsible for doing more to protect our most precious resource. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you found a new tip to put into practice today.