Along with other signs of global warming — rising temperatures and years of drought — there is now limited water left in many places around the globe. Let’s face the fact that fresh water, a limited natural resource, is the only water that animals and we humans can consume. Water means life; only with water can things grow and survive. Humans are doing an excellent job of depleting Earth’s natural resources — and water is one of them. Our planet might not completely run out of water, but more and more people around the world do not have access to clean fresh water when needed. Did you know that the world’s fresh water can be found in only six countries and that only 3% of all water on Earth is drinkable water? My family of two adults and three children live in Southern California and here we have been dealing with extreme weather and drought, so water conservation has become second nature for us. Here are our tips for water conservation:
1. Let your lawn turn brown
Nothing is sadder than a brown, dead, dry garden … except, well, no water at all. So, as hard as it is to stop watering your lawn, it’s a must.
2. Or better yet – remove your lawn
After dealing with a brown and dead lawn for years we decided to remove our lawn altogether. Did you know you can save as much as 70 gallons of water per week by replacing grass with artificial turf or heat-tolerant landscaping such as rocks and cacti? Not only are very saving tons of water with no lawn but we’re also saving lots of money.
3. Plant a vegetable garden
My family always had a small vegetable garden, but once we removed our water-sucking lawn, we created a very large vegetable garden. You might think that would require more water, but a matter a fact we compared our water bill with five people and a large vegetable garden to when we had grass, and we have cut our water bill in a half. The bonus is that we also grow the food that we eat and don’t have to shop as much in a store.
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest global challenges we face today. Plastic takes thousands of years to break down, still, 50% of all plastic worldwide is produced for single-use purposes.
4. Plant Trees
We used to have lots of rose bushes in our garden, which makes no sense when you live in a warm climate, so instead, we planted native trees. Native trees are wonderful because they provide shade but they also filter pollutions and helps improve water quality. Furthermore, trees maintain the rain cycle thousands of miles from the closest oceans, keeping our planet hydrated from coast to coast.
5. Use a shut-off nozzle on your garden hose
6. Install on-off or shut-off timers on sprinklers if you will be leaving during the watering
7. Place your sprinkler carefully
This will prevent water from landing on driveways, sidewalks or streets. It may sound like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how much water gets wasted this way.
8. Turn off sprinkles when expecting rain
Nothing makes me angrier when we finally have rain in San Diego and the neighbors are still watering their lawn.
9. Avoid over-cutting lawns, as taller grass holds water better
10. Choose smart landscaping plants
Landscape your yard with local shrubs, trees, ground covers and plants that require less watering.
11. Place wood chips around plants and trees
Wood chips hold and retain water. When you place them around plants, shrubs, and trees, you ensure that they get a steady supply of water and nothing goes to waste. Spread compost on your lawn and dig it into your garden. When we replaced our lawn, we replaced it with wood chips to avoid plastic grass and to make our garden hold water better.
12. Slow water with a water bottle
To water garden plants slowly, fill a bottle with water and turn it upside down, pushing the neck into the soil.
13. Harvest rainwater
I know that if it does not rain often, to suggest harvesting rainwater sounds strange, but believe me, those few times it rains can fill up a rain barrel. And that water can be used for so much.
14. Water the garden in the early morning
Mornings are cooler, so your garden will need less water since it won’t evaporate as fast. Another option is to water in the evening once the sun has set.
15. Cover the pool
Off course the best option for saving water is to not have a pool or jacuzzi at all, but if you do have one, make sure to cover it to keep it both clean and to keep water from evaporating.
16. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveway and patios
17. Install a grey water system
Greywater systems save water by collecting it from showers, sinks and washing machines, then clean it up and pump it back into the toilet, washing machine, and to an outside tap so it can be used for watering a garden, too. Use of greywater can reduce water usage by 50% or so. Our water from our laundry machine and sink is recycled out to our trees so we never have to water them.
18. Only wash laundry when the machine is full
19. Install rain gutters
Install rain gutters to capture rainwater from the roof and to divert the runoff from paved surfaces and storm drains into a green space, landscapes and/or rain barrels. Lots of states offer a rebate on rain barrels. Check out your local government’s website for more information.
20. Check faucets and pipes for leaks
It’s a sad fact that even a small drip from a leak can waste 20 gallons of water a day, so it’s very important to fix it right away. Some leaks are easy to detect, while some are trickier, so one tip is to use your water meter to check for those leaks. Check a water reader each day: if you see a change, you have a leak.
21. Skip baths and take shorter showers
I for one loved to relax in a hot bath or — at the very least — a nice long shower. Not anymore. Shorter showers are the right way to go when saving water because, for each minute in the shower, another five gallons of water rushes down the drain. One good way to conserve is to install a low flow shower head. It only costs about $5 but, compared to a standard showerhead, can save about 2 gallons of water per minute. A family of four can save approximately 20,000 gallons of water per year by using one.
22. Bring a bucket into the shower
It might seem so silly to bring a bucket to collect any extra water in the shower, but we take short showers and we’re are amazed at how fast the bucket will fill up. So instead of letting this water go down the drain, we use it to water our garden with it.
23. Install low flushing or dual flushing model toilet
This can save an average family about 15,000 gallons a year. Also, use the toilet for flushing only urine and feces. Make sure your toilet is not “running,” which can waste 200 gallons of water per day.
24. Flush only when necessary
If it’s yellow, let it mellow and if it’s brown, flush it down.
25. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing your hands
According to the EPA, you can save up to 8 gallons of water every day if you just turn off the water while brushing your teeth. That adds up to at least 200 gallons a month. So, while brushing your teeth, do not keep the water running. Instead, wet the toothbrush, then turn off the water until you need to rinse. Use the same procedure when washing your hands or face: turn off the water while you apply soap and rub. I have been teaching these tricks to my kids as well.
26. Make sure faucet is completely off after using
27. Use a dishwashing machine instead of hand washing
That you save more water by using a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand was a total surprise to me. Nevertheless, one that made me very happy since I have three kids and loads of dishes.
28. Run the dishwasher only when full
Believe it or not, there is a right way to load your dishwasher machine so you can fit more and then you can run it. My husband is fanatic about loading dishes to fit as much as possible in our machine.
29. Don’t rinse or wash dishes under running water
If you don’t have a dishwasher or when you need to rinse dishes, the best way to conserve water is by soaking and washing dishes in a basin filled with water.
30. Use the real thing
You might be tempted to use disposable plates to save water but, sadly, it takes loads of water to produce disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. Whenever we have a birthday party or a picnic, we always use reusable plates, cups, silverware, and napkins.
31. Skip soda and beer
I know I’m talking about reducing our water usage, but drinking only water is still a better option compared to drinking beer and soda: 20 gallons of water go into making one pint of beer, and roughly two glasses of water go into that glass of soda.
32. Say “no” to water in restaurants unless you plan to drink it all
33. Avoid store-bought plastic water bottles
34. Eat at home
Restaurants, unfortunately, use more water in cooking and cleaning then we do at home, so my family has made it a fun challenge cooking food we like to eat in restaurants.
35. Eat less meat
Meat production uses more water than crops do and are also responsible for pollution water, so less meat and more plant-based food will save water for sure. My family and I are vegan for our health as well as for the planet.
36. Hydrate with vegetables and fruit
Fruit and vegetables not only are packed with nutrients important to our health, but they are very hydrating, so you need to drink less water.
37. Minimize use of garbage disposal in the kitchen
It’s a no brainer that using the garbage disposal wastes lots of water, so an alternative is to start composting. Compost all appropriate leftover food and food scraps. It requires no water and, as a bonus, you will end up with super nutrients for the garden.
38. Don’t clean fruits and vegetables under running water
Clean fruit and vegetables all at once after shopping by soaking them in a bowl of water and a little apple cider vinegar. Dry the produce before storing them in the fridge.
39. Reduce food waste
I used to waste so much food by not consuming them in time or not properly handling them, but now I work hard on keeping track and eating up any food waste in time. 21% of water used to produce food is wasted because of food being thrown away.
40. Recycle pet water
When cleaning the fish tank or pouring fresh water for the dog, use the old water for plants and flowers. Bathe the dog outside, where it can serve to water the grass.
Taking new raw material and manufacturing them into new packaging requires a lot more water than turning recycled items into new products.
42. Skip single use packaged products
It was very hard for my family to skip since individually wrapped snacks are very convenient. However, they do require more water use to produce.
43. Shop in bulk
We shop almost all our food in bulk at our local Coop and since it’s package free, it saves water and reduces waste at the same time. A win-win in my book.
44. Buy recycled paper
Producing paper requires lots of water, so post-recycled paper is a great water saving option.
45. Use tree-free toilet paper
Did you know that it takes 37 gallons of water just to make one roll of toilet paper? Now, if that alone is not a good reason for going the extra mile to find better options, then consider the fact that about 27,000 trees are cut down daily, most of them from virgin forests, to make toilet paper which, by the way, is very unsustainable. For a family of five, we use lots of toilet paper and my favorite brand is Who Gives a Crap.
46. Teach children to play water wise
The good old days of playing in the sprinkler need to stay in the past. Instead, have them choose water toys that don’t require a constant stream of running water. This type of water play can still cool them off, but it is more environmentally friendly and will help save water.
47. Take the car to a car wash
Washing your car at home might save a few bucks, but it requires lots of water. A better alternative is to take it to a car wash that recycles water.
48. Water plants with leftover cooking water
Tea and cooled water from boiling eggs (egg water adds calcium) are good for watering plants. Dish and bath water are safe too.
49. After cooking vegetables, save the water to make a soup broth
50. Steam vegetables while you cook grains
I have invested in a pot with a steamer over so when I cook rice, potatoes or pasta I can also reduce water use by steaming at the same time.
51. Store drinking water in the fridge
If you’re like me and enjoy cold water, it’s better to keep water cold in the fridge than waste water while waiting for it to cool in the faucet.
52. Use just enough water to cover vegetables when boiling them, and put a lid on the pot
53. Buy used clothes
The fashion industry is a major offender when it comes to the environment and water. The clothing industry is the second-biggest polluter of clean water globally and produces 20 percent of wastewater in the world. I love fashion like most women but I try to buy most of my clothes used, and the same goes for my kids. When I buy something brand new I make sure it’s from a sustainable company. My advice is tothink minimal and slow fashion instead.
54. Make clothes last by airing them
All clothes do not have to be washed after one use so airing them out is a good way to make them last longer as well as save water.
55. Skip the nail bars and do your own
I used to enjoy getting my nails done but come to realize these places waste lots of water, so nowadays my daughter and I do our own mani-pedi at home.
I know it might be overwhelming how and where to start conserving water, but I always recommend you start with what seems more doable and take it one step at the time. Soon enough, you will manage to incorporate most of these methods into your daily routine. Do you have any personal tips for saving water you’d like to share?