How to Conserve Water in Your Daily Life
By Vicki Chou | Edited March 21, 2018
Water is often forgotten when there is not an immediate crisis that impacts one directly. In almost all developed countries, people have the luxury of continuous clean water service whenever they turn on the faucet. As clean water resources deplete due to pollution, unsustainable withdrawal from reservoirs, and droughts, this luxury may no longer be available. Estimates say that half the world’s population could be under high water stress conditions by 2030 at our current rate of usage. Because water is such a valuable resource, it should not be taken for granted, as currently over 600 million people do not have access to safe, clean water. As constant consumers of this life-sustaining resource, we must change our daily water consumption to maximize more efficiency in water use and waste.
On average, a person uses 80-100 gallons of water a day. This estimate takes into account showering, washing dishes, flushing the toilet, and watering your lawn, and is only a small percentage of your daily water footprint (how much water is used and/or polluted in the lifespans of products you use in a day).
On a global scale, running out of fresh water means agriculture will suffer great losses in crop output and survival; social unrest, even possibly war, can occur to fight over water resources; destruction of eco-systems will hurt all types of plants and animals; and billions of people will struggle to get enough clean water to drink, cook, shower, and live. On a personal scale, consequences will hit your wallet hard, with water service becoming extremely expensive and food prices skyrocketing.
Taking an active role in improving your daily water conservation = preserving our quickly depleting fresh water resources + ensuring access to clean water for future generations. Support companies that are reducing their water usage throughout the supply chain or are conscious of their impact on water pollution! The following are examples of companies who have pledged to improve their processes to use and waste less water:
Levi Strauss & Co.: In addition to Levi’s CEO asking other companies’ CEOs to join him in only washing jeans “once every 10 years,” the company has also committed to using only 100% sustainable cotton by 2020, which uses less water to grow, and changed their denim finishing process in 2011 to use 96% less water.
Stop the Water While Using Me!: This cosmetic company makes products that are completely eco-friendly. All products are biodegradable, recyclable, all natural ingredients, and non-toxic to water and the environment. Part of the proceeds also go toward funding water initiatives, like LifeStraw and building fog nests in Tanzania.
“How to Make Changes to Conserve More Water
in Your Everyday Habits”
Choose your favorite 3 minute long song (or create a playlist of 3 minute songs!) and pledge to always finish showering before the end of it. Combine this with a navy shower, where you turn off the water while you lather your shampoo and soap and turn it back on only to rinse, for the most efficient shower!
Use a large pot(s) to catch any cold water that would normally go down the drain while you wait for the water to warm up. This large pot of water can be used to wash several vegetables instead of using a steady stream of water from the faucet, to wash smaller dishes to avoid having to fill up your entire sink, or water the plants in your home. The possibilities are endless!
Those with dishwashers: run the machine only when it is full of dishes. As long as your dishwasher is not super old (like 15 years old!) it will be more efficient than hand washing. You can also skip pre-cleaning your dishes prior to loading, just scrape leftovers off. If your dishwasher has an “eco” or “auto” setting that will adjust the cycle length as needed, use it and skip the “rinse” setting.
Those who hand wash: fill your sink (or a large pot!) with water and soap and scrub your dishes in the pool of water. Once all dishes are scrubbed, drain the dirty water and rinse off the soap and any remaining residue with either a small stream of water from the faucet, or refill the sink/large pot with clean water and rinse the dishes there. If washing fewer dishes, be proactive in turning off running water while scrubbing the dishes and use a small stream of water while rinsing.
Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. Bar soap will clean you just as well, but has a much smaller water (and carbon) footprint.
Rewear clothes more than once. Many items of clothing do not need to be washed often and should only be washed when dirty. If anything starts to get smelly, put it in the freezer to kill off the odor-causing bacteria. Only wash your clothes when you have a full load of laundry.
Make conscious food choices. Meats use the most amount of water in their production cycle, with red meats having a larger water footprint over white meats. Changing your diet to vegetarian or vegan results in an even greater reduction in your water footprint, because most vegetables use over 20 times less water to produce than chicken. View this chart for a comprehensive list of different food’s water usage.
Invest in a durable, reusable water bottle and refill it with tap or filtered water. Stop using plastic and bottled waters! Many companies that sell bottled water are withdrawing their water from drought-stricken areas, thus only worsening the water crisis, or they are selling tap water right back to you! By reusing a water bottle, you are not contributing to the fresh water shortage issue or to the water footprint of the manufacturing and bottling of water.
“Good Journey Top Product Picks”