Posted February 11, 2015 by Gabriel Posternak

10 Surprising Facts About Water That Will Help You Reduce Your Water Consumption

Even though most people don’t think about their water consumption on a daily basis, events like the current California drought make them at least consider the issue. It’s sad that we have to come to this for people to start realizing that such consumption is much too high and that we should begin choosing a green lifestyle. At least we can take these disasters to appreciate Earth’s most valuable resource and take steps towards a change for better.

But to do so, it’s important to understand our water footprint and how our daily routines impact on the amount of water we use. Be it directly or indirectly, there are numerous ways in which we waste water without even considering it. That’s why is crucial to take a look at our lifestyles to identify opportunities that can help us save water. Here are some facts that might help you just do that.

1 – Understand the difference between direct and indirect footprints

You probably already know some things you can do to save water: taking shorter showers, making the most of each laundry load, installing low-flush toilets, etc. All of these measures are effective to reduce water consumption. But they aren’t enough. Beyond this direct consumption, there’s an indirect consumption that many times surpasses the direct one. So, start thinking about this indirect footprint, the one that considers the water used to make the products and services we use every day. Understanding and acknowledging the difference is the first step to saving more water.

 2 – Pick the foods you eat wisely

Vegans choose not to eat any animal products for a variety of reasons and water consumption is one of them. Meat, cheese, eggs, butter and milk use a lot of water for their production, since raising livestock is a very water-intensive activity. Going vegetarian seems like the way to go, then. However, you don’t have to give meat altogether. Chicken has a lower water footprint than red meat, so you should choose it whenever you can. Additionally, there are other foods that can take up a lot of water, like chocolate, which uses 2,847 gallons of water per pound produced. Keep that in mind next time you want a sweet!

3 – Drinks can also impact your water footprint

You may be being extra carefully with the water you drink, but that’s a behavior you’ll have to extend to anything you drink. Soft drinks, for instance, can use as many as 50 gallons of water to be produced, while beer only takes 20. There’s an excuse to start drinking more beer! Thinking about what to have for breakfast? Forget about coffee, which consumes about 37 gallons of water in its production. Drink tea, instead, which uses only 9 gallons – and it’s so tasty!

4 – Adjust your home to a lower consumption

As we said above, you probably already know that you can make certain changes in your house to limit your water consumption. Thus, using low-flow faucets can save 3.5 gallons per minute while a low-flow toilet might end up reducing your consumption in almost 5 gallons per flush. Additionally, it’s very important to address any leak you might find in your home’s water system. If left unrepaired, a leaky faucet can waste up to 100 gallons of water per day. Finally, a low-flow showerhead reduces the amount of water by almost 40%, so consider installing one in your bathroom!

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5 – Don’t forget about your garden!

If you have a garden, even a small one, you have to pay special attention to the amount of water you use. The first thing you’ll have to do is get rid of your hose and befriend rain barrels. They don’t just cut your water use, you can use them to collect rain water for later use. Additionally, you’ll have to learn when to water your plants to make the most of each watering. Although many people might think so, having a beautiful garden doesn’t mean you have to waste a lot of water.

6 – Adjust your routine to save water

Your home isn’t the only thing that need adjustments – your attitude can use a few of them too! For instance, you can shut off your faucet while you brush your teeth. The 2 water gallons you’ll be saving by doing so might not seem much, but if you multiply them by the times you brush your teeth every day, you’ll understand why doing this is crucial. You can also stop hand washing the dishes (isn’t that a relief?), since that use up to 20 gallons. Invest in an automatic dishwater and save up to 8 gallons per wash. Finally, taking shorter showers is essential. How essential? A 5 minute shower uses only 25-50 gallons of water and it’s all you need to keep you clean.

7 – Be mindful with the clothes you buy

Believe it or not, clothes also use a lot of freshwater. Cotton T-shirts and denim jeans are among the highest water consuming clothes. For instance, producing one pound of cotton takes up to 700 gallons of water! That’s an insane amount that goes silently into your clothes. That’s why you should consider shopping secondhand or buying clothes made to last.

8 – Buy durable goods

Clothes aren’t the only things you should buy to last. Purchasing everything this way can make a significant contribution to the water reduction process. All manufactured products use water at some point of their production, so reducing the amount of times you replace your things can cut down your indirect water footprint. This can be applied to anything, from smartphones and computers to furniture and home decor.

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9 – Limit the amount of plastic you use

Plastic isn’t just bad for the environment for its contribution to worldwide pollution – it also adds up to the water shortage problem. That’s because making a pound of plastic needs 24 gallons of water! So, there you have another reason to go looking for products with less packaging and to get in the recycling wagon.

10 – Walk!

Cars are a very comfortable way to get around but they don’t help with the water crisis. And it’s not just that they consume thousands of water gallons when being produced but also because they use lots of waters when they are running. How so? A gallon of the gas they need to run uses more than a gallon of water to be produced. That’s why you should always look for a better alternative – walking, using a bicycle, taking public transportation or, at least, carpooling.

It’s true that some of these measure seem a little bit extreme or require some sort of sacrifice from your part. But given that many experts are already predicting direst water shortages in the near future, it’s vital to start making these changes right now. Remember, just 3% of the world’s water is drinkable and we’re using more and more with each passing day. If we keep with this rhythm, that percentage soon won’t be enough.

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