It’s hard to commit to using less water because it involves everything fine and delicate: cleaning our bodies, our food, and our clothes. We have a level of comfort with cleanliness and nobody wants to be smelly. The United States is particularly obsessed with this (“Cleanliness is next to Godliness”). We use nearly as much water as China and they have four times the population.
And water conservation is a worthwhile cause, from the EPA:
In the last five years, nearly every region of the country has experienced water shortages. At least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.
We are in a drought.
Keep that in mind with these water conservation tips. Approach them with caution, do a little at a time, and find your comfort level. At times you may go too far and that is okay. Often I go too long without showering and am reminded, it’s time.
Water use in the home covers four areas: kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and outdoors. Which I break down into two categories – turn-off the running water and change your habits. The first is such a common sense idea, but we frequently keep the water running without doing anything. When you brush your teeth for 2 minutes and use the running water for 5 seconds. Or, when you pause in the shower to lather and ignore the gushing stream behind you.
I daresay these are easy changes:
- Brushing teeth – brush, floss, and don’t turn on the water until you rinse your toothbrush and mouth. Use a cup to save even more water.
- Cleaning dishes – Use running water after you scrubbed your dishes. A moist sponge can get you 90% clean. Make sure to place other dishes to collect the run-off.
- Washing hands – turn off the water while you soap your hands.
- Lathering in the shower – turn off the water for a few minutes while you lather, turn on to rinse off.
I know these are simple and common sense, but they are also habits. Repeated practice can save bucketfuls of water. Remember, the average American uses 100 gallons of water/day!
The second recommendation is for the water warriors. These require true determination, involving a substantial change:
- Shorter showers – Five minutes is the goal, but four minutes will make you a legend.
- Wash your clothes half as much – many clothing items, like jeans, can go weeks without washing.
- No more dishwasher – some say that a full dishwasher is more efficient than hand washing, but the average dishwasher uses 4-10 gallons of water. Can you use less?
- Watering the lawn – water less and less until you notice the grass slightly brown. That is the ideal amount to use.
- Recycle gray water – Keep a pitcher next to the sink for recycling gray water. This is water free of soap and chemicals but containing food bits and such. Give it to your plants because they don’t mind a little dirt.
I have tested these recommendations and found them very livable. It took a few weeks to learn each habit, but now I’m proud of my water use. I think I’m becoming a water warrior!
Maybe I’m ready for the big challenges.