Water, along with clean, safe air, is something that we’re all guilty of taking for granted. We live in a world where it’s always there. We turn the taps on, and water comes out when we need it. We swim in pools full of clean water. We wash our cars and water our gardens without a care in the world. We’re vaguely aware that not everyone lives in the same world. Not everyone on our planet has constant, access to clean, fresh water. In fact, some people can’t get it at all. Most of us that live in hotter countries may even have experienced shortages. Where there are regulations on how much water that we can use, and periods where we have to restrict our personal water usage. We know about hosepipe bans and short-term cutbacks, but while we know some people have to go without, we can’t imagine it. We can’t imagine a life without water.
But, we might need to soon, if things don’t change. As a population we have been using up our supplies of natural resources for a long time, without much care or attention and water is the fastest to deplete. All this time taking it for granted, and using it without thought or consideration, all that water that’s rushed off down the drain when we’ve left the tap on needlessly, is starting to show. Now, we’ve reached the point where it’s too late in many ways.
We are finally becoming more educated and aware. We know that we need to do more and we can read about what a lack of natural resources means for the planet on the whole, and for our household. But, there’s nothing that we can do to reverse the damage that’s already been done.
This often leads to people lamenting “what’s the point?” or “me turning my tap off won’t make a difference.” You may even have wondered how we can possibly be running out of water when the earth is made up of over 70% water. But, 97% of that water is salt. It’s not suitable for drinking. Of that 3% that is left, 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers. Leaving us access to one small percent for drinking. Our population is growing fast, and our supply of fresh, clean drinking water is finite, it won’t last forever. But, if every single one of us did our bit to cut our usage, it could potentially last a lot longer. Here are nine things that you can start doing right now, which will help the earth’s water supply last.
Turn the Tap Off When You Brush Your Teeth
For many of us, toothbrushing goes: Tap on. Wet toothbrush and apply paste. Brush for two minutes. Spit. Rinse brush. We leave our tap on for that whole time. If you are brushing for the recommended two minutes needed to keep your teeth clean and healthy, that’s 12 litres of water. In a household of four, brushing your teeth twice a day each, you are using 96 litres of water a day, just to brush your teeth. This is nothing short of waste. You don’t need this water. It doesn’t make brushing easier or have any impact at all on your teeth. It’s just going straight down your drain.
You could brush without wetting your brush at all, or just add a splash of water. Then you only need another tiny splash to rinse your brush and face as the current advice is not to rinse the inside of your mouth. Leaving some paste on your teeth is good for them. If you want to make your tooth brushing even more environmentally friendly, start using bamboo toothbrushes to cut the use of plastics.
Rainwater is a valuable resource. Yes, when it comes down, it helps to water plants and grass and generally looks after our landscapes. But, you could be doing much more with it at home. Many new homes in warmer areas are now built with water tanks in their gardens to catch and store rainwater. But, if you haven’t already got one, you should consider the investment. Rainwater tanks collect and save water which can then be used instead of water from your tap.
This water is usually safe to drink, but many people prefer not to. Instead, you could use it to water your plants, clean your car, do household chores of fill the kids paddling pool. There’s plenty that we use water for that doesn’t include drinking. You can use this water straight away, so that you are always using less from the tap, or you can save it for periods of drought when you might not have access to clean water for these jobs.
If you are worried about tanks being unsightly, don’t be. They’ve developed a lot in recent times. You can get water tanks in a variety of sizes, and even have an underground tank fitted if you are very short on outdoor space.
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a nice long soak in a hot bubble bath. It eases your aches and reduces your stress. This is absolutely fine. But, make it a treat and not an everyday occurrence. The average bathtub holds about 300 litres of water. That’s water that you just sit in for an hour as it gets dirty and then drain away.
Showers only need to use 6 litres a minute. If you can cut your daily showers to 10 minutes, that’s only 60 litres. To ensure your shower is using 6 litres and not more, consider an aerated shower head, which mixes air with the water, or a regulator which will put a limit on your flow rates.
If you do need to bath, or bathe your children, try to only fill it as much as you need to, and all share the same water when possible.
Fix Drips and Leaks
Leaky taps are a considerable cause of water waste. Even a slow drip can waste litres every day. Left unfixed, that waste continues to grow. It will probably even get worse over time. Go around and fix any leaks or drips. It’s usually just a case of tightening your fixtures but get a plumper into help if you need to.
Add a Toilet Damn
Older toilets can use up to 25 litres of water with every flush. If four of you go to the toilet five times a day that’s 500 litres of water even before you’ve washed your hands. What a massive and unnecessary waste.
There’s a lot that you can do to cut this water waste. Firstly, you could not flush, living by the old saying, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down”. You can also install a newer toilet or add a toilet damn which restricts the amount of water used. You could even find a flush that gives you long and short options, so you only use what’s needed in each situation.
Fill Your Appliances
Some modern washing machines weigh your washing each time. Then, they only use the water and power needed to complete the load. If yours doesn’t do this, make sure you wash a full load every time to cut down on the number of washes you do and reduce the water that you use. This goes for your dishwasher too.
Keep Water Bottles in Your Fridge
When it’s hot, there’s nothing better than a cold, refreshing glass of water. But, water doesn’t come out of the tap freezing cold. You have to run it for a while first. Which is wasteful. Instead, fill water bottles from the tap and chill them in the fridge so that you’ve always got icy water as soon as you need it.
Get a Meter
Sometimes, the best way to make savings is to become more aware of what you are currently using and where. Installing a meter gives you accurate readings of how much water you are using. You can use these to help you to make cutbacks and savings in the right places. This will also help you to save money and educate your family.
Use Water Efficient Appliances
Newer washing machines aren’t the only household goods that do more to restrict water usage. Taps, shower heads, toilets, dishwashers and more are all being developed in ways that help them to use less water and less power.
While most of us can’t afford to rush out and replace everything we own. We can make the right decisions when they break. Remember, any expense incurred now, could be regained in smaller bills in the coming years.
Of course, saving water isn’t just about protecting water. Using less water also means that we’re using fewer other resources, as we need to produce, filter and pump less water. It’ll also cut your household water and fuel bills, and who doesn’t want to save a little money? On a personal level, saving water by using a little less every day, means that you are less likely to face restrictions and find yourself having to do without. Saving water isn’t just something that will help future generations. It can start to have a positive impact on your life, straight away.