Home is Where the Water Is
I used to daydream in the shower, letting my mind fog over like the bathroom mirror fogged with steam. Then I became aware of how much water I was wasting with every extra minute I stood there. Now it’s as if I shower at the Bates Motel: I’m in and out quickly. Many of us mindlessly waste water, either because we are just fogging out or because we really don’t know any better. A home-based education on water is what we need. And here’s why: Our homes are where we use the most water in our lives. The average household in America uses about 400 gallons of water per day. That can easily be cut to less than 100 gallons by doing a few simple things. Here are some tips culled from The Green Blue Book.
In the bathroom
Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Do as your dentist recommends and brush your teeth three times a day, and, tap running, you’ll likely use about 5 gallons of water. Turn off the tap, and you could use as little as a few tablespoons. If every American did this, the savings after just 1 day would be as much as all the residents of an average-size state use in 2 1⁄2 days.
In the kitchen
Don’t always believe the box when you cook. It only takes 1 1⁄2 quarts of water, for instance, to cook a pound of pasta, whereas most instructions say it takes between 4 and 6 quarts. Considering that we cook a billion pounds of pasta per year in the United States, the water savings could equal a billion gallons as well.
In the living areas
The number one plant killer is overwatering. Professional gardeners claim that most indoor plants are overwatered by 90 percent. Most plants only need to be covered in 1 inch of water per week. The savings from just one plant in every household could flood the country.
In the laundry room
If you wash clothes by hand, don’t. It’s the 21st century. Washing and rinsing just one garment by hand can use as much water as a whole load in an efficient washing machine: 20 gallons.
Check the time. Every minute a faucet runs, you use several gallons of water. If it’s an older device, you’re likely using three times that amount. No matter, get a low-flow device and save about half the water you’d normally use.
More accurately measure the amount of water you use. Whether it was for a plant, some pasta, or a pot of coffee, leftover water can’ t be saved for another day; it’ s wasted. Bad math is bad for the planet. Count the drops correctly.
Embrace technology. Sure, you save more when you use a dishwasher versus washing by hand, and the same hold true for your car; go to an automatic car wash and save 100 gallons compared to your own hose-and-bucket job.
Thomas M. Kostigen is the author of The Green Blue Book: The Simple Water-Savings Guide to Everything in Your Life (Rodale) available on March 22, World Water Day. www.thegreenbluebook.com. Photo by Mouse.