water conservation habits to adopt

9 Water Conservation Habits You Need to Adopt

Water saving car wash

Credit: Ridofranz

This month’s Biofriendly DIY is about water conservation. Water conservation is a serious topic of discussion, especially here in California where records show the state has just seen the driest year since 1924.

The drought isn’t just prevalent in California either. Much of the Western United States has been experiencing drought conditions. It’s actually gotten to the point where farmers from the Family Farm Alliance have gotten together to provide testimony, propose solutions for the existing drought conditions and come up with ideas on what can be done to mitigate drought in the future.

Why Water Conservation Is Important

Water conservation is important for a number of reasons. When we are smart about our water usage, we help protect the clean water reserves we have. We also reduce the amount of energy required to get the water delivered to homes, businesses and the local community. Conserving water ensures there are water resources for food supplies and other necessities. Water conservation is also extremely beneficial to the local eco-system.

The earth only has a finite amount of fresh water. In fact, despite more than 70% of the earth’s surface being covered by water, only 3% is fresh water. Then, only about 0.5% of the fresh water is available for use. The remainder is inaccessible as it can only be found in polar ice caps, glaciers, soil or so far underground it’s too costly to extract.

Rainwater harvesting

Credit: schulzie

What You Can Do To Conserve Water

On a broad scale, you can start by reaching out to your local government and encouraging them to adopt water-saving strategies like the ones recommended throughout California.

As for us as individuals, here are 9 habits we can adopt to reduce our own water usage and lend a hand in water conservation efforts, regardless of the state or country in which we live.

1. Swap Out Grass for Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants

While having a green lawn may have seemed like a great idea in years past, grass requires a lot of water in order for it to maintain its well-kept look. What’s better for your property, and yet still has curb appeal, is to swap out grass for native and drought-tolerant plants. Pollinator plants should be considered, as well.

Each of these types of plants will thrive well in their local environment and will require less water for upkeep. Your entire landscape can actually be designed with drought in mind.

2. Utilize Greywater or Harvested Rainwater

When it comes to the upkeep of your garden and yard, another habit you would be smart to adopt is utilizing greywater or harvested rainwater.

You can collect greywater from faucets in the kitchen or bathroom, as well as from showers and washing machines at times. Then, use the greywater to water your garden and yard. You can also use water captured from a rainwater harvesting system to get this done.

Installing a drip system is another simple way to conserve water and prevent over-watering.

3. Minimize Water Use During Shower Time

I’m sure you’ve probably been told, at one point or another in your life, to cut down your shower time in order to save water. Well, while it is true you should try to limit your showers to less than five minutes, you should consider a few other actions to cut down water use in the shower.

Turn off the water while you soap up. There’s no need to keep the water running while you are soaping up or shampooing your hair. It’s simple to turn the water off, then turn it back on to rinse off.

You can also add an aerator, or other low-flow device, to reduce water flow.

4. Turn Off The Faucet While Brushing Your Teeth

As you did with the shower, you should do with the sink while brushing your teeth or washing your face. Turn on the water, wet your toothbrush, turn off the water, brush your teeth and then turn it back on to rinse off your toothbrush and rinse out your mouth.

Same goes for washing your face. Turn on the water, wet your face, turn off the water, add cleansers, then turn the water back on to rinse your face off.

5. Install Low-Flow Faucets, Showerheads and Toilets

Installing low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets can save you a substantial amount of water (and money). According to the EPA, using WaterSense labeled fixtures can reduce your water usage by around 30 percent. By replacing old, inefficient faucets with low-flow options like aerators, the average family can save about 700 gallons of water per year. That’s quite a bit of savings for such a simple action, right?!

6. Keep an Eye Out for Leaky Pipes and Fix Any You Find

Those serious about water conservation, which should be all of us, will want to keep an eye out for leaky pipes. Leaky pipes can be a sneaky source of water waste. You don’t always know where it’s coming from, or that it’s happening at all, but it is costing you money and wasting water.

When you do find leaks, be sure to get them fixed as soon as possible.

7. Run Major Appliances Only With a Full Load

Major appliances like dishwashers and washing machines should only be run with full loads. It’s a waste of energy, water and money to run a half load. Please note, while some washing machines now have settings which allow you to use less water for a smaller load, you are still using energy to run the machine. It’s better to wait until you have a full load to minimize water and energy use.

Skip the pre-rinse, too. Pre-rinsing your dishes can waste up to 15 gallons of water, depending on how many dishes you pre-rinse. Each of these actions can help you conserve energy and water.

8. Be Smart When Hand-Washing Dishes

If you need to hand wash dishes, be smart about it. First scrape off any food residue from your dishes. Then, fill up your sink with hot, soapy water. Wash the dishes in the soapy water. Do a quick rinse and towel dry.

Keeping the water running while hand-washing dishes can waste between two and six gallons of water a minute. Yes, that’s per minute!

9. Rethink How You Wash Your Car

Those who want to get their car washed can either opt for a waterless car wash, do a low water car wash or find a local car wash utilizing a recycled water system. With a waterless car wash, you can wash your car at home without having water needlessly running down your driveway. All you need is a waterless cleaner and a microfiber towel or two. Your car will come out shiny and clean with no water wasted in the process.

A low water car wash is done with a bucket full of sudsy water, a sponge or car-washing mitt, a watering can and a couple of microfiber towels. Skip the hose. Depending on your age, you might remember washing your car this way or, at least, seeing your parents/grandparents do so. It’s a very easy way to wash your car and minimizing water use.

Should you feel the need to get your car washed at a local car wash, find one utilizing a recycled water system.

Water conservation image

Credit: niphon via iStock

Water Conservation Is An Every Day Activity

While the aforementioned water conservation habits do not cover every step you can take to conserve water and protect the environment, it does give you a place to start. What you need to realize, however, is water conservation is an every day activity. It is something we need to incorporate into our daily schedules and routines. When you use water, think about how you can cut down your use or minimize your waste. It’ll be beneficial for you, for the planet and for future generations in years to come.

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