Lately I’ve been depressing the heck out of myself with articles and documentaries about water. Water issues have been kind of on my radar for quite some time. By which I mean I knew that there were environmental and social issues surrounding the earth’s water but I hadn’t actually looked too far into them, so I had yet to make any real changes in my life to reduce my water footprint. Maybe because my carbon footprint still seems like such a mammoth task, or maybe because this stuff is so terrifying to me that I’ve been trying my damnedest not to think about it. It’s hard to say.
Whatever the reason, water isn’t just an environmental issue, it’s a human rights issue, and it’s one I need to stop ignoring, putting off, downplaying, or forgetting.
I had actually planned to use this paragraph to list some of the scary things about water scarcity and purity I have learned lately. But I feel like I was kind of harsh in the plastic post last week so if you would like to know all the reasons why water issues are so very incredibly hugely important, you may start on the World Water Day website and go from there.
When you’re done that and are feeling kind of hopeless, you can read through some of the things I am doing to conserve water this week. If you prefer to just take my word for it also know that conserving water can save you money, so there’s your motivation.
Watch the water you eat: This year the focus of World Water Day is food. Honestly, until I was researching this post I only had a tiny idea of just how much water it takes to produce the food on my table. Onedrop.org has a neat little game that helps you find out what kind of water footprint your menu has and I was SHOCKED by my result. My light Sunday evening meal of blackened chicken on Caesar salad took nearly 1000 liters of water to produce. After playing with the game for a little while and doing some more research around the website I got a pretty good idea of where all that water consumption was coming from. Take a look for yourself!
Ditch the bottled and canned beverages: not just bottled water; pop, juice, coffee drinks, anything that comes in a bottle and contains water from a source outside of your local water system has to go. When companies package water from one water system and ship it to others all over the world there are devastating effects on the environment. One way to avoid doing this is to remember to bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go, and if you absolutely must drink pop try getting a fountain drink where the flavor syrups and carbonation have been added to local water, it’s still not great but it helps.
Short showers: This week I will be using a kitchen timer to time my showers. As the mostly-stay-at-home mother of a toddler there are days where the only time I get to be alone and not talk about fire trucks and puppies is when I am in the shower, and even that isn’t guaranteed… so I tend to linger. Not this week. this week I am going to try and keep my showers down to about 5 minutes. A friend recently linked me to this article which figures the average shower head uses about 2.5 gallons of water per minute. So by cutting my shower time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes, I am saving about 25 gallons per shower. That’s kind of mind blowing.
Double check the plumbing in your home: This may be a good time to check your home for hidden water leaks that may be wasting valuable water resources. As well as doing maintenance, you could make changes like adding weights to your toilet tank, installing low-flow faucets, or minimizing your use of garburators, dishwashers, and other convenience appliances that use a lot of water.
Landscaping: If you’re a gardener, or just want to make some improvements to your yard this spring and summer, you are likely in the planning stages of your projects so this is a great time to think about water conservation! Group plants according to their watering needs, plant water retaining plants along sloped areas to reduce run-off, choose native species suited to the natural precipitation in your area, choose lawns or grasses that are drought resistant to reduce the need to water, and plan to water only when needed and in the early hours of the day to avoid evaporation before your plants have had their fill.
Collect rain water: Last summer we had planned to collect rain water to use for watering our houseplants and small container garden. For a few reasons the idea was soon forgotten and we never did get around to it but I am going to focus my efforts here this week. Because we do live in an apartment I am not sure that we could collect even enough to water the plants, but I figure there’s no harm, in trying. I am finding a lot of interesting information and DIY projects online that can help you collect rain water, treat it, and use it around your home to save on the drinking water your family consumes.
The things I’ve listed here are by no means the only ways to conserve water. There are literally hundreds of things big and small that each of us can do to conserve and protect water. I have only listed a few of the items I will be choosing to focus on but as always, I encourage you to find something that will suit you and your family the best. And don’t forget to let the rest of us know about it!