We live on the blue planet with a surface that is covered by roughly 71 % of water. But less than 3 % of this is freshwater, and out of that, more than two thirds is unavailable as drinking water as it is locked in ice caps and glaciers (for more on these figures from NASA, click here).
All in all, that leaves less than 1 % of all the water on earth as possible drinking water sources (not counting desalination which some countries, like Malta, with very little freshwater has had to implement. It involves removing salt from ocean water to create drinking water).
According to UNICEF, as much as 1 in 3 people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water.
Meanwhile, in many places in Europe and the United States, water is considered an abundant resource and even in the places it isn’t, it can be difficult for people to reduce their consumption of drinking water.
There are many things that can make it difficult to make an active change in your life, but I’ve come across some really helpful tips when it comes to reducing your water consumption at home that I’m sharing with you below.
Some of these are easier to do than others, so if you’re up for a challenge – great! If not – start small and take one step at a time. But I’m sure everyone will find at least one tip that they can easily incorporate in their life.
Water-saving tips for your home (indoor and outdoor)
- Wash vegetables in a bowl instead of under running water.
If the vegetables are organic, it’s perfect to use this water to water your plants with afterward.
- If you wash dishes by hand, do so in a bucket or bowl.
You’ll save many liters compared to doing your dishes under a running tap.
- If you can afford a dishwasher, opt for an energy-efficient one.
These typically use less water than washing by hand. Even though they may cost you more to buy, they’ll save you more money in the long run.
- If you use a dishwasher – fill it up completely before you turn it on to save more water.
- Fill up a bottle of water from the tap and put it in the fridge.
Then you don’t have to let the water run until it gets cold.
- Keep coffee warm in a thermos during the day if you make a lot at once.
That prevents you from having to throw it out if you haven’t drunk it until it gets cold. (The same goes for tea if you’re a tea drinker of course).
- Swap animal products for plant products.
Producing 1 pound (less than 500 g) of beef requires a whopping 1,800 gallons of water (more than 6000 liters) while 1 pound of soybeans requires just over 200 gallons (ca. 750 liters).*
- Some plant products also require a lot of water. If possible, try to go for less water-intensive foods
For more information on this and virtual water, click here.
* = these are U.S. numbers. I don’t know if they are applicable to other places in the world, but cow’s flesh and other products from animals have a much larger water footprint than most plant foods either way.
- Turn off the tap while you’re brushing teeth.
- Swap out your baths for showers.
A 5-minute shower uses 10 gallons (ca. 45 liters) of water while a bath uses triple that amount.
- Shorten the duration of your showers.
I read recently that a shower shouldn’t be longer than 1-2 songs. (Please note that it does not mean that you can just loop Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and get away with it though, you sneaky thing.)
- Reduce the frequency with which you shower.
Not showering every day is not gross. It’s economical, responsible and should be more normalized than what it is.
- Switch to low-flow shower heads, toilets and taps (also useful for kitchen).
Same as with the energy-efficient appliances; these might be more expensive to purchase but will save you more money when you’re using them.
- Don’t let water run while you’re shampooing your hair or soaping your body.
That is, if you can endure it. Honestly, I’m terrible at this one myself but it’s good practice! For… something. Your determination if nothing else.
- Keep a bucket in your bathroom to let cold water from the shower run into it until the water has reached the temperature you want.
That water you can then use to water your indoor plants with. (Sensing a theme yet? If you don’t have a rainforest at home – be sure to get one. Like stat.).
- This might be controversial but here goes: youactuallydon’thavetoflushyourtoileteverytime.
Phew. I just wanted to be over with it real quick cause I already feel a sh*tstorm (no pun intended) coming on in the comment section. But honestly. It’s just a matter of getting used to it I think. And like we established above, it’s not bad to challenge yourself sometimes.
- Hang your clothes to let them ventilate in the air instead of washing them every time you’ve worn them.
- Smell your clothes.
Yep, flare what mama Gaia gave you. If they don’t smell, you can wear them again and you don’t have to wash them every time.
- Only do full cycles when using a washing machine.
BONUS TIP (even though you didn’t ask for it): let your clothes air-dry instead of in the tumble dryer. It has nothing to do with water but I found I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t mention it when talking about laundry anyway.
- Try to buy as much as possible second hand.
Some things, like cotton for example, need lots of water to grow and during the process of creating the fabric as well. If you buy something second hand, you’ll not only save money but save more water.
- Collect rainwater in a barrel and use that to water flowers and crops with.
- Avoid watering your lawn as much as possible.
Grass can take being yellow for a while until the next rain comes. Yellow is the new green.
- If you do water your lawn and your plants, avoid doing so in the middle of the day during full sun.
Instead, watering in the morning or evening will let the water be soaked up by the soil instead of immediately evaporating during a hot day.
- If you live in an arid place where you don’t get a lot of rain; replace your lawn with species of plants that are actually meant to live in that environment.
Or create a beautiful rock garden.
- Let the water from the gutters flow onto your lawn.
This will save you having to water your lawn and reduces risk for flooding since the grid doesn’t get overwhelmed in case of heavy rainfall.
Do you have your own tips to add to this list? Let me know in a comment below!