Reduce your water footprint with these seven simple steps
Water is all around us in abundance, in taps, bottles, fountains — it even falls from the sky. So, is there really a great urgency to restrict our use? To put it simply, yes.
The more we use at home, the more energy that is needed to process and deliver it to us. Although water covers 71 per cent of the earth, 97 per cent of this contains salt, so it is undrinkable, and two per cent is freshwater locked in ice caps and glaciers, leaving only one per cent for us to drink. With the population growing, and the planet heating up, we all need to make small changes to our everyday lives to ensure we’re preserving our resources and looking after our environment.
1. REUSE, RECYCLE
At first, recycling water may seem like a slightly odd concept, but it has a number of benefits and is actually really easy to do. For example, when you’re running the shower to heat it up before jumping in, collect it with a bucket and use it for a different purpose, such as watering houseplants, or topping up the fish tank — but, of course, wait until it cools.
Next time you wash your dog or car, do it in an area where the excess can flow to the garden so your plants feel the benefit. It’s also a great idea to tip leftover washing up water on the lawn or over flowers, too.
2. GET GREEN FINGERS
A manicured lawn may look luscious, but they’re high maintenance and require a lot of water. If you don’t want to ditch the green completely, try either reducing its size, or be tactical about when and how you water it; using a sprinkler or hosepipe can use thousands of litres of water each hour, which can quickly evaporate, too. To avoid this from happening, water your lawn and garden with a watering can either early in the morning or later in the evening. Another great way to make your garden more eco-friendly is to invest in a water butt so you can make use of the natural water supply, rain.
3. SCRUB UP
Putting plates in the dishwasher instead of washing them by hand isn’t just the lazy option — it, surprisingly, uses a lot less water than filling the sink. But, whether you decide to clear away your dishes straight after you’ve eaten, or wait until the next morning, make sure you don’t put the dishwasher on until it’s fully loaded. The same logic applies with washing clothes — making sure you have a full load is saving water 101. If you don’t have enough clothes to fill the drum, double up with family members or try to wait until you do.
4. LIVE CLEAN
Did you know that every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of water? Scary stuff, but this can easily be managed by setting a timer on your phone, limiting the amount of time spent in the shower — every minute counts! Another handy trick is remembering to switch off the tap when applying soap, washing your hair or shaving, which will help you cut back on water bills, too.
This also applies for when we use the sink, for example when brushing your teeth or washing your hands. Our final bathroom hack is a reminder of the old saying: ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’. The average toilet uses a huge four gallons (15 litres) of water per flush, so flushing a little less regularly can have a big impact. Alternatively, invest in a dual-flush system.
5. FIX IT FAST
Got a leak? Even that annoying drip that falls out of the tap every so often can rack up the amount of water your household wastes, so don’t put off fixing it. However, not all drips are easy to spot. If you want to check if your taps are secretly leaking, wash and dry the basin thoroughly, then check back to see if there’s any signs of liquid after an hour or so — if there is wetness, there is a leak. To test whether your toilet is leaking, pop a small amount of food colouring in the tank — if the colour begins to seep through to the bowl, you’ve got one.
6. MAKE IT COUNT
Installing a water meter will encourage you, and the people you live with, to be a little more conservative with your usage. Paying for exactly how much you use is a great incentive to be more mindful, and it can also help you to save a few pounds. It may also inspire you to think of alternative ways in which you can reduce your water usage, to benefit both the environment and your back account.
7. EAT PLANTS
Switching to a vegan diet will help you indirectly reduce your water footprint, as farming animals for meat and dairy requires much more water than plant-based products. However, it’s not just your water usage that you’ll be reducing, as cutting meat from your diet will also lessen greenhouse