Editor’s Note: Ten Ways to Save Water was originally posted on Cali Green Turf.
As the drought becomes the new normal for the state of California, it is every single person’s responsibility to reduce water consumption. Conservation is no longer an option. With a growing population and a diminishing water table, we need to think about how we live, how we consume water, and what we can do to ensure this planet is sustainable for future generations.
Within this list, you’ll likely find something used, something new, and something borrowed, to (save) something blue.
Several of these recommendations will sound familiar, but there are some you may not have thought about. After you read through our Top Ten list, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Be ready to share!
Without further ado, our Top Ten Ways to Save Water.
1. Go green all year long with artificial turf!
You knew this was bound to make the list right? Every year at Cali Green Turf, we set a goal for how many gallons of water we want to save in any given year. For 2016, we set a goal to save 8 million gallons of water. As of November 30, we’re getting mighty close! We’ve saved approximately 7,150,153 gallons of water according to our calculations (based on California state government data for average lawn water usage per square foot).
Around here, we like to say, “This isn’t Grandma’s duraturf.” Synthetic grass these days is lead-free, crumb-rubber free, cooler, and safe and healthy for pets and children. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this business. We want you to be healthy, and we want the state of California to be healthy and sustainable. In our estimations, saying goodbye to a live lawn and hello to low-maintenance, water-free turf is the best way to do that.
2. Do the dishes like Grandma.
Speaking of Grandma, it turns out doing the dishes by hand was a smart move. Sure, it takes a little more time, but it saves an awful lot of water compared to prerinsing dishes and running the dishwasher daily. The trick is to plug and fill the basin with warm water and soap, let your dishes soak, then scrub and wipe until they’re sparkling. A quick rinse, a towel dry, and you’re done. We find handwashing dishes is best done in pairs. The time goes by much faster when the task is completed with a loved one, and you’ll find conversations flow with no tech in-hand.
A caveat: If you’re one of those people who leaves the water running during the handwash, stick to the dishwasher. It’s more efficient than a constantly running tap.
3. If you must use a dishwasher, run it full.
We get it. Once you’ve lived with a dishwasher, it’s hard to go back to the old days. Fortunately, there are some pretty good high efficiency dishwashers that only use 4-6 gallons a load. So, if you reject the idea of living life in the 1940s again, and really want to use a dishwasher, go ahead and get a high efficiency one. Then wait to run it until it’s completely full.
4. Wait for a full load to launder your clothes.
We know people who run the washing machine multiple times each and every day. It’s not necessary… fill a basket before you head to the laundry. You can use a spot remover to treat stains before they set, but for the most part, clothing really can wait a couple of days to get clean. Look in your closet… you’ve got backup to wear. Each load of laundry uses up to 30 gallons of water (for high efficiency models) or up to 45 gallons of water (for the original kind). Most people can probably get away with about three to four loads per week to wash a family’s clothes, towels and sheets. If you’re a two load a day person with a high efficiency model, at 30 gallons of water, and you convert to four loads a week, that’ll take your water usage down from about 1,800 gallons per month to 480 gallons per month, or 73%.
5. Turn off the faucet when shaving or brushing your teeth.
If you’re under 40, chances are this is something you were told in elementary school. If you’re over 40, chances are a kid you knew in elementary school told you this, beginning back in the ’80s. But do you follow it? Your sink faucet pours out two gallons of water per minute, on average. Don’t let it run. Say you brush your teeth for the recommended two minutes, twice a day. Are you willing to pour eight gallons of water down the drain every day, just because? Just turn on the faucet for a couple quick brush rinses and to rinse out your mouth. It may not seem like much, but those gallons add up to big savings.
6. Shower, but less than 10 minutes.
When it comes to shower vs. bath, a quick shower uses less water than a bathtub. So save the tub for the occasional relaxing treat, and use the shower instead. As long as you keep it under 10 minutes, you’re being mindful of water usage. Gents, since you don’t have legs to shave like most of the ladies in your life, see if you can even save an extra couple of minutes and get it down to 5-7 minutes. The reservoirs will thank you!
7. Trade up to low flow appliances.
When it comes time to replace your old appliances, be sure to go low flow: on the toilets, the shower head, the sinks, the dishwasher and the washing machine. Do be mindful of going too low flow, particularly for the shower. You want to get a good stream going to wash well… if it’s too weak, you can actually spend more time in the shower trying to get clean and end up using more water. Know your parameters and go as low as you can within those needs.
For everything else, low flow is great. Be ready to change a few habits. Low flow toilets require you to hold down the handle a bit longer than you’re used to. High efficiency washers and dishwashers can take a bit of extra time to run their cycle and require different soap than you might be used to. It won’t take you too long to get into a new habit.
8. Clean outside with a broom instead of a hose.
For everyday cleaning, you can have an outdoor broom to sweep away the dirt and dust and grime from your patio or balcony, even lightly on your siding. Save the hose for a big annual cleaning or special occasions.
As far as leaves go, follow the same mentality and use a rake instead of a leafblower. You won’t save water, but you will save petroleum and toxic emissions, which goes hand-in-hand with our goal to save water. Water conservation is just one piece of sustainability. To really help this planet, we need to pay attention to energy usage and air pollutants too!
9. Fix leaks.
Hear a drip, drip, drip of a faucet somewhere in your house? It’s wasting water and increasing moisture in your home (which can lead to mold and mildew… yuck!). Get it fixed. For big jobs, call a plumber. Many small jobs can be easily repaired with a few minutes on a Google, a quick trip to Home Depot, and a new washer or little bit of equipment. Don’t forget about outdoor plumbing as well. Periodically walk around the house to make sure outdoor faucets, hoses and sprinklers (for those of you who haven’t switched to turf yet) are all in order.
10. Think about the third world.
Most of you reading this are in the United States, living a relatively comfortable first world existance. You probably have indoor plumbing, and getting water is as simple as turning on a faucet. It’s good. Most water in the United States is sanitary in this way, and as a country we’ve worked hard to ensure access to water is generally treated as a basic right. We are fortunate to live here.
Much of the world (a full third of the global population, in fact) has no access to running water inside their homes. They live by carrying buckets of water every day for what they need to cook and clean. Some walk to a nearby watering hole, some to a well. Some walk for many miles a day, just to have water.
Imagine that life. Imagine having to fill a bucket and walk long distances for the water that you need. Would you pour water out of the bucket the entire time it took to clean your teeth? Would you patch up a hole in the bucket or allow the water to slowly leak out on the walk home? Would you keep a patch of grass alive?
Everytime you use water, think to yourself, “Would I walk miles to use water in this way?”
If you wouldn’t, consider whether it’s really necessary. The question puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?