A guide to easy ways to reduce water consumption and preserve our most precious resource. Water is not only essential to life – all life – on Earth, but it’s also a more precious resource than we might realize.
That’s because, even though more than 70 percent of the planet is covered by oceans, most of our water – 97.5 percent – is salt water, and more than two-thirds of the fresh water is locked up as ice. Furthermore, as the world population continues to grow, agriculture and industry expand and the climate changes, water shortages in various parts of the globe are becoming more frequent and severe.
Even so, we in the world’s wealthiest countries continue to use – and waste – huge quantities of water. How can we change that? By each of us doing as much as we can to recognize that every drop of fresh water is too valuable to take for granted, and by acting accordingly.
Here are 10 ways to start conserving water in our daily lives:
- Always keep in mind how much of the world still gets its water. Water is easy to waste when it’s so easy to come by: simply turn on a faucet and, voila, fresh, clean water for the asking. But more than a billion people on this planet don’t even have access to clean drinking water, and many others must travel for miles every day to fetch the water they and their families need. To learn more, check out the American Museum of Natural History’s online guide to its latest exhibit, Water: H20 = Life.
- Don’t pour “leftover” water down the drain. Use any undrunk water or melted ice from your drinks to water houseplants. Do the same with leftover cooking water from pasta and vegetables… after it’s cooled, of course.
- Invest in water-conserving appliances. An aerator attachment on your kitchen tap can reduce water consumption, while clever gadgets like ShowerStart keeps flow to a trickle until the water is hot enough for you to step into the shower.
- Turn off your faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Choose showers over baths, and make your showers quick.
- Make sure you have full loads whenever you run your dishwasher or washing machine.
- Eat as little meat as possible, or go vegetarian/vegan. Meat production is wildly water-intensive: according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it takes 4,500 gallons of water to produce just a quarter-pound of beef.
- For the same reason, choose “real” foods over processed ones. The more heavily processed the foods you eat, the more water is required to produce those foods.
- Don’t hose down your sidewalks and driveways to keep them clean. Use a broom instead.
- If you can, buy a rain barrel and use it to collect water for landscaping and other outdoor needs.