With droughts happening in the western U.S. in states such as California, many places are encouraging people to lessen their water usage. Even in places that aren’t drought-ridden, lessening your water usage can have positive impacts on local water quality and ecosystems. Using less water allows aquifers to refill quicker and can put less of a strain on farmers who grow the plants we need to survive. Lessening your water intake is an important step in ensuring the quality of the environment around us and preserving the environment for generations ahead. Below are a few tips on how to lessen your water usage:
Collect Your Rainwater
Rainwater that falls on rooftops often just runs off roofs and goes into the sewer. While this water is not clean enough to be used as drinking water, it can be used to water your garden if collected in a rain barrel. To utilize a rain barrel, you connect it to your downspout from your roof. It collects the water (around 55 gallons depending on the size of your rain barrel) and you can utilize this water later during dry times to water your garden. Alternatively, you can build a rain garden. A rain garden consists of native plants specifically adapted to very wet conditions as well as drier conditions. By directing your downspout to the garden, you can collect water from your roof during storms and the plants will eventually soak it up. Other benefits include attracting local wildlife and lessening the amount of water added to the sewer system thereby reducing run-off pollution into local waterways.
Replace Your Lawn
Driving through suburban areas, you see vast areas of green, grassy lawn. This lawn, while nice to look at, is actually pretty water intensive, particularly in hot and dry climates. Most conventional lawns are not meant to withstand many days with high temperatures and little water, and therefore need to be watered regularly. Places like Las Vegas, which are constantly struggling with low water availability, are already encouraging citizens to convert their lawns. Converting your grassy lawn to a garden filled with native plants allows less water needed to keep your property looking great. Or you could utilize the area to grow vegetables. Either way, you are preventing more run-off and utilizing the area more effectively.
Avoid Bottled Water
Though it may seem like bottled water wouldn’t have that much effect on water usage, it actually is extremely inefficient in utilizing water. Along with the many other negative consequences of bottled water, for every bottle, up to five times as much water was used to make it. Drinking tap water directly (when feasible) is a much better option. Consider investing in a BPA-free reusable water bottle or getting a filter for your water that you can keep in your refrigerator. In the long run, you will not only save water, but you will also save money, too.
Lessen Your Energy Usage
While we don’t often think of water being related to energy, it is actually a vital part of it. About 15 percent of water withdrawals worldwide are for energy usage. Coal power plants, one form of energy that uses one of the lowest amounts of water, on average use about 0.152 gallons per kilowatt-hour, meaning the average household uses about 137 gallons of water a month just for energy. Ways to lessen your energy use at home include replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, use large appliances during non-peak hours (the middle of day during the week or at night), and insulating your home better.
Eat Less Animal Products
Animal products are a lot more resource-intensive. Animals require a lot of food – on average many times more water as it would take to just grow plants. For example, a pound of beef requires about 1848 gallons of water per pound, but vegetables on average require only 38 gallons per pound. Even if you compare on a protein basis, beef requires almost 10 times as much water as vegetables per gram of protein. Lessening or completely removing all animal products will severely lessen your water usage.
Many people often have the thought that because they are only one person, what they do in their life has little impact on the environment around them. One person can have an impact, albeit small, but collectively, this impact can make a difference. Whether it’s lessening the strain on a local farmer, keeping water flowing through a sensitive habitat, or lessening the amount of pollution entering our local water ways, it can make a difference. Consider changing a few things in your life. Even taking small steps now can make all the difference in the future.
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