Yes, we’ve all been there. Water running while doing dishes for 15 minutes straight. Water running while brushing teeth. Sprinklers on even though it rains. It would be so easy to not do these things, but it is so difficult to see the long-term repercussions of all these little actions that we simply don’t care about the outcome due to convenience.
What if we knew we’d have 100,000 gallons of water left for the whole world and that is it? No more water after that. Well, we’d be screwed. But how much water do you think would we really use anymore? Who would still turn on their sprinklers? If a more immediate disaster was visible, we’d all care a bit more about the environment, but the disaster is just not hitting home enough. It’s too far away, it’s too invisible. We have to all start realizing that it’s really NOT so far away. And if, in fact, it won’t affect US, how do you feel about your kids or grandkids running out of water? It’s a serious problem and we all really should care about saving water. It is so simple, there’s really no excuse.
Here are 10 handy and easy tips, assembled by the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, on how you save water right on the home front. Maybe you could implement just a couple – what a difference that would make!
1. BRICK IT
Time: 1 minute
Protecting your watershed is easy with every flush of the toilet! The motto “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” isn’t for everyone (certainly not for me and not in 100 degrees!), but displacing your toilet’s tank water definitely is. By displacing your toilet’s tank water, you save 1/4 gallon with every flush. Simply fill a used bottle with sand, or grab a brick and place it in your toilet’s tank. Easy water savings in the tank and easy money savings for your bank! And you have no not ever do anything again about it! EASY! (If your toilet flushes 1.6 gallons or less, no brick necessary. Good job!)
2. TURN OFF THE WATER WHILE BRUSHING
Time: 1 minute
Your bathroom faucet uses 2 gallons of water every MINUTE! Would you have guessed?! Turn off the tab while brushing your teeth or shaving your ‘stache and save 8 gallons per day (that’s 3000 gallons a year!). Less water down the drain means less pollution in the ocean.
3. USE A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Time 5 minutes
I am actually good at this! I use the same bottle for about… oh, until I loose it or it breaks. Every 20 oz. packaged water uses 6 gallons of water in order to manufacture and move that bottle into your hands. SIX gallons! A bottle! Going reusable saves that water and puts less plastic particles floating in the line-up.
4. WASH ONLY FULL LOADS OF LAUNDRY
Time: 5 minutes/1 load
Next laundry day, make it count. I bet everyone who takes out laundry is already implementing this – because there is an immediate effect in your wallet to not filling up loads. Laundromats are definitely not cheap! I am so glad I have my washer and dryer back in the house and don’t have to pay exorbitant prices on laundering anymore. Even though… to ME, it’s just way too much work (and soap isn’t cheap!) to do 500 loads of half-full laundry. But not only does one load of laundry use up to 40 gallons of water, the use of traditional, phosphate-filled laundry detergents pollutes our watershed. Protect your watershed by washing only full loads with biodegradable soaps. And if that’s too expensive, at least fill up the loads. So simple!
5. COMMERCIAL CAR WASH
Time: 30 minutes
Why let an average 17 gallons a minute run out the hose and wash chemical soaps down the storm drain into our oceans? (As a matter of fact, in Germany – where I am from – it is illegal to wash your car anywhere outside a professional designated car wash area for that very reason!) Conserve water and reduce urban runoff by skipping the at-home wash and going commercial instead. Commercial car washes are required to use on-site water recycling, filtration and conservation techniques – keeping your ride, and your beach, clean.
6. EAT VEGGIES INSTEAD OF MEAT ONCE A WEEK
Time: 30 minutes/1 meal
Huh? Ya, that’s what I thought when I first read it. But keep reading, this actually makes sense AND is quite stunning! It takes nearly 650 gallons of water to raise, process and transport the meat for just one burger. (WHAT!! That’s insane!) Compare that meal to a veggie one – requiring around 200 gallons (that’s still insane!). Another upside is reducing the animal and chemical pollution of meat production, which ends up in our watershed and eventually, the ocean. Go veggie at least once a week and you’ll feel better all around, not just about your water usage!
7. GRAB A BUCKET!
Time: 1 minute
Step 1: Grab a bucket.
Step 2: Use the bucket to save water. Fill it in the shower while the water is heating up, or under the sink while you wash dishes and/or fruits and veggies.
Step 3: Use that water that would have been otherwise wasted to water your garden or rinse out your wetsuit. Every time you fill your bucket, you save gallons from going don the drain, so grab a bucket and put good water to work. Alright, so this is a bit gung-ho for me personally, I am just not going to have buckets of water sitting around until I need them. But if you know you’re going to water the plants after your shower anyway, well, why not?
8. RETROFIT YOUR FIXTURES
Cost: $1 faucet aerator and $25 low-flow shower
Time: 5 minutes
Low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators reduce water consumption by as much as 50% by mixing air into the water stream, without sacrificing water pressure. Updating your fixtures will save you money and water – an easy win-win for us and our watershed. That water aerator for your sink, by the way, cost just $1 and saves you 1,000 gallons a year!
9. GROW YOUR OWN
Cost: $65 to build or $80 to buy
Time: 3 hours
Become a container gardener and grow food anywhere! Your kids will love this activity, too! Say goodbye to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that pollute our watersheds when you grow your own organic, seasonal veggies.
Best containers: Think upcycle! Almost any box, bin, can, pot, drum, or basket capable of holding soil and providing drainage will work.
Herbs: Cilantro, basil, and parsley
Veggies: Tomatoes, peppers and squash
Herbs: Rosemary, oregano and thyme all year
Veggies: Lettuce, chard, peas, strawberries
10. REMOVE YOUR LAWN
Time: 1 day + 8 hours max re-growth period
The average Southern California lawn drinks over 750 gallons of water each week to stay healthy!!! A yard with native and/0r drought-tolerant plants cuts that number in half while bringing in local wildlife and pollinators. Nixing your lawn will save water, reduce runoff, and eliminate the need for pesticides and weed killing chemicals that end up polluting our watershed. Grab a shovel and dig in. I know it’s the “cool” thing to have a front lawn in suburbia, but I think saving 750 gallons of water a week is pretty high up there, too!
What are your best tips for saving water? Do you have anything to add?