Water. While over one billion people in the developing world don’t have access to the clean sort for drinking, In the West, they take it for granted. So, what can we do to get smarter about water usage? Green Choices offers us “50 ways to save water” that covers our homes both inside and out. Here are the highlights:
In the kitchen:
1. Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full. Sounds like a no-brainer, but the lazy and china-challenged amongst us seem to conveniently forget. For small loads, wash ‘em by hand.
2. Wash fruits and veggies in a bowl with a brush rather than let the water run over them. Every drop counts.
3. Use recycled water for plants. Like water from washed veggies, dehumidifier condensation.
4. Steam vegetables rather than boiling. Less water, more nutrients. Double points.
5. Defrost food in the refrigerator, not in hot water in the sink. Yes, it takes longer but it uses less water and there’s less chance of bacteria breeding. Yuck.
In the bathroom:
1. Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket. Tossing cotton buds, nail clippings or old soup down there is nasty. Dispose of them in the appropriate way.
2. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Faucets can run two to three gallons of water per minute.
In the garden:
1. Choose to hand-water with a hose rather use sprinklers. But if you insist on using them, position them away from driveways and walkways. Here, here. As a jogger who regularly gets drenched by irritating sprinklers. And if one of your sprinklers is busted and gushing water, fix it.
2. Add compost to soil to improve water-retention. This also has the added benefit of fabulous plants and a reduction in household waste.
3. Grow drought-tolerant plants. This water crisis is not going away. Choose iris, verbena, lavender, aloe, Japanese pagoda or Eastern red cedar. They’re gorgeous, trust me.
4. Fill your pool a few inches lower than usual. And avoiding bombing, it’s obnoxious and wastes water.
5. Don’t install water fountains or features unless they use recycled water. And if you install, make sure they’re in good taste.
1. Stay at green hotels. It is possible to be socially responsible when you’re on the road. Help out a maid and the planet by keeping those towels off the floor.
2. If you use a diaper service, you may actually be doing more harm to the environment that buying disposables. All that washing, not to mention drying and delivery, can create more carbon that the conventional kind. If you live in an area with water restrictions, it may be best to switch.
3. Patronize car washes that use recycled water. Also while doing it yourself is cheaper and offers a great backdrop for a sexy photo shoot, blasting a hose and letting detergent flow into the sea is not so smart.
Quit your moaning. These are all do-able. And as Green Choices says, all of these suggestions are “no- or low-cost actions”. As with just about everything, water usage basically comes down to habit, so with little effort you can easily incorporate some or all of these water saving measures into your daily routine. And before long, you’ll be a natural.