Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Water Waste Use

Picture courtesy of Associated Content

Let's talk water reduction, shall we?

Think you're already saving water? There are many places in your daily routine where you can reduce even more the amount of water you use in order to conserve our precious and limited resource.

This chart, from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, shows the amount of water used indoors in residences:

You can see that toilets, washing machines, and showers take up most of the chart.

Starting at the beginning of the day, when you hop in the shower, try and stay in only a few minutes, or at least cut down the amount of time you spend in the shower. Estimates show that even a one-or-two-minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month! You can also purchase a low-flow shower head to reduce the amount of water used each time you shower. Oh, and for those of you who prefer baths to showers? You use 15-25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower. And with a low-flow shower head, it's even less.

Another thing you can buy that has low-flow options is a toilet. Or, if you're not ready to replace the one you've got, you can simply put a brick or full gallon jug of water into the tank in order to keep the tank from filling completely with water. In Elizabeth Roger's and Thomas M. Kostigen's The Green Book, they state that one flush equals about 4.5 gallons of water, which is equivalent to the amount of water "the average person in Africa uses for a whole day of drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning." Think about that the next time you flush!

Something else you can do when it comes to using the facilities is to remember the old adage "If it's yellow, let it mellow." Sounds gross, I know, but think about how often you flush when there is simply a tiny bit of pee in the toilet. I'm sure you can think of times when it's pretty unnecessary.

As for washing clothes, I'm not suggesting you find the nearest river and beat your shirts and pants on a rock, but there are still ways to conserve water in the laundry room. Only wash full loads, for one. If you wash a bunch of small loads, you're wasting a lot more water and energy with all those extra wash and rinse cycles than if you save up and do one big one. (Plus, wash the clothes in cold water, and you'll save even more energy. Most detergents nowadays work really well in cold water.) It's also time to rethink how often you need to wash articles of clothing. Sure, underwear and socks need to be washed every time they're worn (although some people claim otherwise). But what about that shirt that you wore with an undershirt underneath? It barely touched your skin, do you really need to launder it? Try getting at least a couple of wearings out of each article of clothing, and you'll reduce your water use even more. Plus, you'll spend less time doing laundry, so it's win-win.

Another appliance to use only when full is the dishwasher. This reduces water consumption as well, even more than washing dishes by hand.

Just changing little parts of your daily routine can add up to a saving a lot of water. Try to be a little more mindful of how you use and waste water, and you'll see you can save in many areas of your home and life.

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