Did you make coffee or tea this morning? Do you maybe have a load of laundry tumbling in the washer right now? Let's pause for a moment to give thanks for the plentiful, clean water we enjoy each and every day.
People with easy access to clean water are in the minority in many areas. Water shortages and pollution problems persist across the United States, such as the lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan or the drought-depleted Colorado River. Meanwhile, advocacy groups such as Blood:Water and Pure Water for the World work to bring more clean water to global communities that need it. In the midst of these ongoing water crises, it's important to remember that we can make an impact on worldwide water consumption at home.
Taking Shorter Showers Is Just the Start
You might wonder why water conservation is important in modern cities and towns with access to clean, flowing water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that as our population doubled in the past fifty years, our water usage tripled, leading to estimates that at least 40 states may experience water shortages in the next five years. To advocate for sustainable management of the planet's water resources, citizens across the globe celebrate World Water Day on March 22 every year.
Now is the time to be mindful. US residents use an estimated 80 to 100 gallons of water each day, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Water Science School. That's enough to fill a standard bathtub three times!
The USGS says older shower heads allow up to five gallons of water to flow per minute. Newer, efficient low-flow shower heads reduce the flow to approximately 2 gallons per minute. This means that if you shave a few minutes off your shower time and install a water-conserving fixture, you can reduce your water usage two-fold.
Is a plumbing remodel in your future? Ask your contractor about a greywater system. According to Greywater Action, an environmental group that advocates for water conservation, these systems can collect wastewater from bathtubs, showers, sinks, and even washing machines and route it to toilets in the home or as a means outdoor irrigation for plants and greenery.
Water conservation can extend far beyond showers and baths, too. Let's look at the ways you can reduce water use in the laundry room, kitchen, and other areas of the bathroom.
How to Save Water in the Laundry Room
Only wash what's actually dirty. I've realized those cardigans and sweatshirts that I toss on for a few hours in the afternoons when I'm chilly don't need to be washed after each short use. Ditto for jeans that aren't worn outside the home or dressy outfits that I only wear for a few hours at an event. These types of garments get hung back on a hook in my closet so they can get worn again before landing in the laundry basket.
Consider changing how you wash your clothes. Cold water cycles don't engage the water heater (which uses gas or electricity) and still get your clothes clean, according to Consumer Reports. It's also helpful to only run full loads to cut down on water and electricity usage.
When you're in the market for an upgrade, buy a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine. Look for the blue Energy Star certified logo on the appliances you're browsing for approximately 25 percent less energy usage and 33 percent less water usage than standard washing machines. Plus, the clothes tubs in Energy Star washers are bigger, so you can do fewer loads of laundry. When the hubby and I upgraded to HE appliances, our time in the laundry room was cut almost in half thanks to larger loads and fewer cycles.
How to Save Water in the Kitchen and Bathroom
Explore low-flow shower heads. Consider low-flow faucet attachments for your sinks and tubs, too, as well as kits for converting your current toilet tank to a low-flow option to use less water per flush.
Start practicing simple habits. Turn off the water while you're actively brushing your teeth, shaving your legs, or scrubbing dirty dishes. You only need running water when you're in rinse mode for these tasks!
Fill the dishwasher to its maximum capacity. This might mean leaving a handful of dirty dishes overnight until you have a full dishwasher.
Trimming back on water usage can have a ripple effect of savings on your electric and water bills, and it can reduce the fossil fuel usage it takes to purify, transport, and heat water.
Get the Family Involved
WECalc offers a home Water-Energy-Climate Calculator that estimates your water and energy usage so you can see how your conservation efforts will reduce energy costs and utility bills.
To get the kids on board with using less water, offer friendly competitions, creative games, or small rewards. See who in the household can take the shortest shower on a weekend morning or remember to turn off the water while brushing their teeth for a five-day streak.
Plan a family field trip to the local water treatment facility or a nearby river or lake to learn where water comes from first-hand and consider the effort it takes to clean and transport it to your home. If one is available in your area, you can join a local clean-up group as a family to help keep our waterways clean.
Every small effort matters! Your diligence inspires others to focus on taking shorter showers and learning ways to save water around the house. Let us know how you conserve water in your home by sharing a photo with us on Twitter!
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Conserving water starts at home and only takes a few minutes each day. Make a difference simply by making mindful decisions within your everyday routines, such as showering, doing laundry, washing dishes, or flushing the toilet. Your kids and friends will take notice of your greener choices and get inspired to do the same. You've got this!