In Part 2 of our Eco-blog series, we discuss some easy steps that we as individuals can do to help reduce excess water usage.
1. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and washing dishes by hand.
Many people do this already, but just in case you don’t, turn off the tap while you brush your teeth. By turning off the tap while you brush twice a day, you can save over 200 gallons of water per month!
And if you wash your dishes by hand, turn off the faucet while you scrub the dish. If you have a dishwasher but prefer to wash by hand, it is actually more water efficient to wash dishes in a dishwasher – but make sure you are only turning it on when you have a full load.
2. Take shorter showers, and shower less often.
While even the most water-conscious of us all love the occasional ‘standing around in the hot water’, every minute you spend in the shower uses around 4.5 gallons of water. Make sure you aren’t wasting water using the first 5 minutes to ‘wake up’ or the last few minutes avoiding stepping out of a hot shower and into the colder bathroom air. (The air will still feel cold whether you get out now or 3 minutes from now).
“Wait, you want me to shower less?!” Plenty of studies have shown that your hair is generally healthier if you wash it every other or every third day. This isn’t a golden rule for everyone, since some of us have different hair types that may require more or less washing. But washing your hair daily can strip it of its natural oils, tricking your hair into thinking it needs to produce more oil to replace it, which in turn makes you feel like you need to wash your hair again. Let’s not forget that Dry Shampoo was invented for this very reason! (Batiste Dry Shampoo is one of our favorites). Of course, if you’ve worked up a sweat, by all means take a shower!
3. Replace older appliances and plumbing with newer, water-efficient ones.
Of course, these options are not generally available for apartment dwellers, so we’ll focus on those that own a home. While a more expensive step, there comes a time in home ownership when appliances need to be replaced. When making purchasing decisions, opt for lower water usage for dishwashers and washing machines.
Toilets, too, eventually need to be replaced. Replace these with the kind that use minimal water both in the bowl and during flushing. Purchase shower heads that are also optimized for the lowest water usage without compromising on water pressure. You can also drop a brick in your toilet to help reduce the amount of water usage with each flush! Read here for details.
4. Adjust your eating habits.
A tough and controversial conversation to have these days is the topic of eating less meat and consuming less dairy. But regardless of how anyone may feel about giving up their daily meat intake, the figures speak for themselves. In the US alone, animal agriculture uses anywhere from 36-74 trillion gallons of water per year. TRILLION. While some have taken it upon themselves for both climate reasons and animal rights reasons (among others) to go completely vegetarian or vegan, even participating in one meatless dinner per week for the family can save up to 133 gallons of water!
We won’t dive into here how much it can benefit your health as well as save money, but those are some nice side perks. Also, try to eat seasonal and local produce as much as possible. Avoid water heavy crops as much as possible. As much as we all love our avos, crops like avocados, walnuts, almonds, and rice are extremely water-heavy and usually grow in areas without much water.
5. Buy less clothes.
On that same note of water-intensive crops, cotton crops are one of the world’s largest consumers of water. Breaking this down only requires the simple economic understanding that buying less of anything creates less demand, which in turn creates less of a need for it to be grown in the first place. Not to mention all the CO2 you’d be saving from not requiring these clothes to be made in the first place and also being shipped worldwide. But air pollution is another topic for another blog. If you want to spruce up the closet, buy used clothing. Not only is it better for the environment, but you’re also bound to save quite a bit on the wallet.
6. Make sure your yard is made up of climate-appropriate plants.
This isn’t as much of a problem in a state like Washington, but even here in the Puget Sound, if you do like to have green grass, please consider watering it much less often in the summertime. While it may not be the most appealing to have a brown-ish lawn, watering lawns takes a huge amount of water only for the benefit of having something ‘look pretty.’
Also, water in the early morning or later evening for less evaporation. If you do move to another state with a drier climate, please pick other climate appropriate plants. If you live in the Southwest for example, consider a more desert friendly yard and garden with desert flowers and cactuses.
In addition to saving water, be considerate of the chemicals you are pouring down the drain. Regardless of water treatment facilities, some chemicals won’t be fully eliminated and can seep through the ground before re-entering our oceans and water supply. We highly recommend switching to all-natural brands where possible. Some of our favorites that we carry in store are:
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Tom’s of Maine
- Art Naturals
- Kirks Soap
- Sun Bum
- Not Your Mother’s Naturals
- Raw Sugar
- Seventh Generation
- Aunt Fannie’s
*Due to national shortages, selection may vary by store.
You can read Part 1 of our Eco-blog series, All About Plastics, here.