How to Cut Home Water Waste
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The world’s dwindling water resources are being used by a growing population with increasing demands. Believe it or not, most of the U.S. is expected to face water shortages in the coming years. In 2011 alone, the USDA designated Natural Disaster Areas in 256 counties in the western and southwestern U.S. due to drought. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted $4 million to four institutions in 2015 to conduct research to combat the effects of drought and extreme events on water quality in watersheds and at drinking water utilities.
According to the EPA, the average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. Much of that is hidden inside the products we buy, the energy we use and the food we eat, but our laundry, hygiene, dishwashing, and personal habits do consume more than the global average.
Here are some simple, inexpensive ways to cut back on water use at home:
- Use less water: one of the clearest steps toward water conservation is also the most obvious one -- simply use less. Start by taking shorter showers, filling up the dishwasher and laundry machines before you run them, and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
- Check for leaks: look at faucets and pipes to make sure water isn’t escaping.
- Choose smart appliances: water-saving shower heads, low-flow toilets, and faucet aerators can lower your water bill.
- Go meatless: it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to produce one hamburger because of the food, water and facilities that cows need. By reducing meat in your diet, you can drastically cut down on not only water use but greenhouse gas emissions as well.
- Plant drought-resistant vegetation: some native plants, shrubs, and trees require less watering. Consider xeriscaping -- landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. The traditional turf lawn is one of the most environmentally unfriendly types of landscaping! For houseplants, try using water leftover from cooking instead of running the faucet again.
- Go renewable: Half of the water we use goes to power generation. Renewable sources like solar and wind use significantly less water than coal and nuclear. Make the switch.
- Fill up a water bottle: instead of buying disposable plastic water bottles, fill up a refillable water container to decrease the energy used in producing, transporting, and disposing plastic bottles.
- Avoid buying new “water-intensive” products: cotton, electronics and paper all require a lot of water in their production. Try buying used clothing and recycled paper whenever possible and resist the urge to get the latest gadget every year if your existing device is in working order.
Calculate your water footprint here and get more tips on water-saving strategies. Also, check out our tips for saving water at the office here for more ways to reduce your water consumption.