Water, essential to life, but in real scarcity in many places. According to the United Nations, by 2030, 47% of the world population will be living in areas of high water stress.
Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. Obviously adequate access to useable water is a concern, that if not already affecting, will touch us all within the coming decades.
Here are 12 ways that we as individuals can reduce our use of water this summer and well beyond. If collectively, enough of us reduce consumption, we can help move the needle towards less water use. And an added benefit, will be decreased water and energy bills.
In the Yard
1. Make sure to use plenty of mulch in your flower beds. Mulch such as pine straw will help to reduce evaporation and hold down the number of water sucking weeds.
2. Incorporate soaker hoses into your landscaping beds wherever possible. The hoses deliver water at the base of the plants in a controlled drip, thereby reducing the amount of water needed to properly hydrate the plants.
3. Add a rain barrel for water collection to your yard. The rain barrel incorporated into a downspout on the gutters can be really useful for collecting water for gardening when mother nature provides a rainy day.
4. When using sprinklers, water during the cooler parts of the day. Early morning is the most preferable time. And remember to water for a longer period of time, less often. The general rule of thumb is that you want to deliver moisture until it reaches about an inch down in the soil.
5. Consider transitioning from traditional heavily water-dependent landscaping to native plants and xeriscape elements. These types of planting have greatly reduced water requirements and tend to be much more drought tolerant.
6. Leave a little height when mowing your yard. Taking your grass nearly down to the dirt when you mow may seem like a good way to keep from having to mow as often. Actually, it could mean lots more work and expense for you in the long-term when you have to replace your grass. Mowing grass down too far stresses it and does not leave enough surface area for proper absorption of nutrients and hydration.
In the House
7. Install low flow shower and faucet heads. Many of these gadgets are so well engineered that you hardly notice the difference in water flow. Also, limiting shower time helps with water conservation.
8. Install a low flow toilet adapter kit in current toilet or, if time to replace the potty, do so with a low flow one. This can save you at least several gallons of water each time you flush.
9. Consider purchasing a tankless water heater. We have had one for about 5 years and have been pleased with the drop in our energy bill. Because energy production is very water-intensive, it helps to cut down on water consumption in that way. *Please note, that upfront cost of a tankless water heater is higher than a regular water heater, but cost difference gets paid back over time.
10. Inspect plumbing and fixtures for any water leaks. Even a small drip can add up to big water loss over time.
11. Pre-soak dishes to remove leftover food and run dishwasher when full (Water Use It Wisely).
12.While brushing teeth, turn off water until you are ready to rinse (Eartheasy.com).
The great thing about conserving water around the home is that it is relatively easy to do with some simple changes. I know I am going to do my best to expand my efforts to reduce our household water use.
For more environmentally friendly tips: