As the eastern half of the United States gets buried in snow, those of us in California are being told that we are facing a severe drought. While recent rains will help a bit, we are still seriously behind on the amount of water we need. In the face of one of the worst droughts in California in more than a century, it’s long-past time we got serious about saving water.
It’s true that every drop counts, especially when each drop is hard to come by. So in light of the drought, I’m stepping up my water saving tactics and trying to save as much water as I can.
What I’m doing to save water:
1. Turning off the water when I’m washing my hands. I know it’s a small change, but with flu season running rampant I wash my hands constantly and I try to suds for as long as possible. I have been making a conscious effort to turn on the water, rinse my hands, turn off the water, scrub with soap, turn on the water, rinse my hands, turn off the water. It makes a huge difference in the amount of time the water is actually running.
2. Likewise, leave the water off while I’m brushing my teeth.
3. Only wash full loads of laundry. It’s so tempting to do a quick load of laundry mid week with only a few things in it, but the less I do laundry, the more water I save. And since the largest carbon footprint of our clothing is not from manufacturing but from the water it takes to wash them over and over again, there are extra benefits to holding off. I also use a European front-loading washer that uses far less water than a conventional top-loading washer.
4. Opt for a shower instead of a bath, and make that shower fast. I’m aiming for seven minutes or less (which is huge for the queen of the 10-15 minute shower), and when I can, skip a shower. Showering less is actually good for you, but on days when I get really sweaty I take a quick shower where I don’t wash my hair.
5. Only run the dishwasher completely full and opt for the dishwasher over hand washing for appropriate items. You’ll use up to 35 percent less water than if you washed them by hand. When I do need to hand wash items, I use a bowl or the sink and fill it with soap and water instead of washing each item individually and running the tap.
6. Wash my clothes less frequently. While there are some items that need to be washed after every wear, my sweaters and jackets certainly don’t need to be. I also stretch how long I wear my pants before washing. Not only am I saving a significant amount of water, I’m also saving the time it takes to do the laundry and I’m making my clothes last longer.
7. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. Although it’s really most convenient and least difficult to explain when you have your own bathroom.
8. Avoid meat. Technically not a change in light of the drought since I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly a decade, but avoiding or decreasing meat drastically cuts water consumption. A pound of beef takes nearly 2,000 gallons of water to produce from growing the feed for the animal to the production and processing of the meat.
For more tips on how to cut your water consumption, check out this great list from National Geographic.