How to reduce your water Impact daily
No drip zone: 7 easy ways to conserve water
Words— Jennifer Braun
Look at us here in North America with our fancy cars, iPhone Xs, designer wallets and running tap water – wait, what? If you think one of these things don’t belong, think again.
While having potable water accessible at the turn of a faucet throughout our home might feel like a basic human right, it is indeed a luxury. A luxury, we often abuse.
In fact, according to a 2017 UNICEF report, some 200 million hours are lost every day by women and girls gathering water, while it’s estimated that by 2040, almost 600 million children (1 in 4 worldwide) will live in areas with extremely limited water resources.
And sure, 70 percent of the world is covered in water. But only about 2.5 percent of it is actually drinkable - worried now?
Many factors contribute to water stress, but what we know for sure is that our daily actions take their toll. From our purchasing habits to our food choices, a water crisis is unfolding. But we also know that if we all do our part and make a few small adjustments to our everyday routines, we can ease the stress on the water supply. Here are just a few simple ways to do your part.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits of water abuse. When the industry isn’t using hundreds of thousands of litres of water to produce materials like cotton, it’s, unfortunately, polluting waters with synthetic dyes and other chemicals. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of our clothes and to make smart purchasing decisions. So the next time you decide to buy that t-shirt you kind of like and it is only $14.99, consider not buying it because it took about 2,720 litres of water to make.
But if you really DO need that t-shirt, contemplate buying one made of organic cotton or other alternative fibres. Luckily, fashion industry pioneers are now starting to offer products made with more sustainable methods. Today, there are denim options that are made with less water and to find pieces made of organic materials or recycled fibres that are more environmentally friendly [Ed. note: Frank And Oak Hydro-less jeans use 75% less water than standard jeans]. While organic cotton is still grown with a large amount of water, it’s grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers—so it won’t contribute to water pollution. Start making it a point to read the labels on the clothes you buy and to support fashion companies that keep sustainability top of mind.
You don’t need to wash your clothes as often as you think and you definitely don’t need to start a load of laundry for that one top you think you wore, but can’t remember, but let’s wash it anyway, just in case. Washing our clothes consumes a lot of water, so the next time you toss your pants in the laundry bin, stop and ask; why? A shirt that doesn’t have a stain and doesn’t stink can easily be hung and aired out to be worn again, especially in the winter when we don’t perspire heavily. Meanwhile, when it is time to start the laundry, make sure you can do a full load. After all, eliminating just one load of laundry a week can make all the difference.
The research around hand-washing dishes versus using a dishwasher is still unclear, which is why it’s important to use common sense and consider our water footprint every step of the way. If you hand wash your dishes, don’t let the water run freely from the faucet. Instead, plug the sink and start saving water. If you do have a dishwasher, make sure to only run it when it’s full. Your water- and energy-efficient dishwasher won’t help the planet if you run it unnecessarily.
Flushing can be one of the biggest water hogs in your home with older conventional toilets using 5 to 7 gallons per flush. While we might not all have the means to install low-flow models, we can all make an effort to flush less. Start by not using your toilet as an ashtray or garbage disposal and instead throw tissues and other waste in the garbage. The saying “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” might sound cliché, but it’s also sound advice to help mind your water impact.
Every time you run the faucet, you’re literally wasting water, which is why one of the first things they teach us in elementary school is to turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Remember that? Every drop that comes out of the faucet should be used and if not consumed, then repurposed. Some tricks include filling a jug with tap water and placing it in the fridge, so you don’t leave the tap running for the water to run cold before you fill your glass. When you do fill your glass, make sure you use every last drop - drink it, water your plants, clean your vegetables with it - whatever you do, just don’t let it go to waste.
Finally, water is not only necessary for consumption, but also sanitation and a lot of water gets consumed in the shower. Consider installing a low-flow showerhead, which can end up saving you money in the long run, and definitely cut your shower time short. One of my pro tips is to listen to music while you shower to keep track of time. Cut your shower time down to a single song and you’ll easily reduce your water footprint. Also, note that a short shower is more water efficient than a bath, so think of baths as an occasional treat and avoid taking one every day.