This month we're back to a basic conservation topic: water. But here's the thing. So much water is wasted in the production of things like plastic, food, paper, clothing...are you sensing a pattern? Those are the topics we've covered so far in our challenge. This means that if you're already taking steps to reduce your footprint in those areas, then congratulations! You're on your way to reducing your water footprint as well.
But you aren't the kind to sit on your laurels. You're someone who wants to find ways to infuse more kindness into the everyday - and that includes reducing water use further. So, like always, we'll start with some research - and move from there into practical steps. Because if you're like me, you are on board with the idea of conserving water - but those long, hot showers call your name, or the habit of washing dishes under running water is tough to break (um...or so I hear). It's time to challenge ourselves to do more, starting with me!
Why is conserving water important? According to the government of Saskatchewan, "The reality is that fresh water is a finite resource that is becoming scarce. While water is constantly being recycled through the Earth's water cycle, people are using up our planet's fresh water faster than it can be replenished." Predictably, the United States uses more water per capita than any other country in the world. Of course, every drop of water we use costs us money as well, and represents energy, wear, and tear at the water treatment facility it came from. According to Wikipedia, "For many cities, drinking water and wastewater treatment plants are typically the largest energy consumers, having a total of 30-40% of the cities' energy consumption."
Take some time to think about what this month's challenge will mean for you and your family. Some excellent lists of water conservation steps, and stats on how certain steps can save water, are at National Geographic and Water Use It Wisely. Remember - go big with your goals, committing to a few weeks, and see how your habits can change!
- When washing dishes, only run the dishwasher when full, and hand-wash with a sinkful of water instead of with running water. Before putting dishes in the dishwasher, only rinse as much as your machine requires; many newer machines can handle a lot of gunk.
- When replacing a dishwasher or washing machine, opt for an Energy Star model.
- When replacing shower heads, faucets, or toilets, look for WaterSense labels. Install water-saving aerators on faucets.
- Speaking of toilets: according to National Geographic, "If you still have a standard toilet, which uses close to 3.5 gallons a flush, you can save by retrofitting or filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick."
- Time yourself on how long you're showering and shave off a minute or two per day to challenge yourself to a 5-minute shower. Turn the water off while shaving, and wash your hair less frequently if possible.
- At the sink, turn the water off when brushing your teeth, shaving, or scrubbing your hands. (This is a great one to teach kids, too!) Repair leaky faucets.
- Reuse things as much as possible before washing, such as towels, clothing, or water glasses.
- Always think of how to get dual use out of water. When waiting for the tap to get hot, fill a container to water house plants. While your kids run through a sprinkler, place it over an area in need of watering.
- Involve your kids. Here's a list of books to teach kids about water. Keep an eye out for ways to bring it up in conversation - when teaching them to hang up and reuse their bath towel, or to turn the water off when lathering their hands, or to pour their unused water into a plant.
- As for landscaping, water only as often as necessary, and only as much as the soil can absorb. Install a rain barrel for watering.
- Clean the garage, patio, deck, or driveway with a broom rather than running water.
- Do you work at an office, school, or other location where you can keep an eye out for water waste? Speak up and offer solutions.
As always, I hope you'll take time to equip yourself for change. Most of the changes above require little or no prep, but maybe you need to make a shopping list for the hardware store, or research how to fix a leaky faucet. Think through how to set yourself up for success, and come over to our Facebook group for help!