By: Amanda Froelich,
Environmental awareness and the plight to decrease water consumption is a growing trend. Not only is it now “hip” to be a crusader for a greener Earth, but companies and technologies devoted to reducing devastation caused by unsustainable living methods are growing in popularity.
Even educated consumers are making a greater effort to conserve resources; according to Environmental Leader, 82 percent of consumers now buy green, despite the current economy. This is great news for every inhabitant on this planet – and also affirms that the hard work spent campaigning to raise such awareness is finally paying off.
But the commonly known “water-wasting” habits – such as brushing one’s teeth with the water on, taking long showers, or watering lawns in drought – are only some examples of how the precious resource is wasted. To enlighten readers on the other habits which harm the Earth – and how they may also be avoided – a list of some of the 9 ways water is currently being wasted follows:
Being a Fashionista
There’s nothing wrong with looking good, but the trend to hoard closets of clothes, especially jeans, can hurt the environment. According to the India Textile Journal, the textile company is one of the biggest creators of waste water worldwide. And according to the EPA, it takes 2,900 gallons of water to produce just one pair of jeans.
The solution? Limit your casual shopping, and “go vintage” by shopping in thrift stores to find recycled goods. Buying “organic” and fair trade is also another alternative to reduce the amount of water commonly caused by “wet processing” materials.
Cooling off in Your Backyard Pool
We know the summer months can be torturous, and although a refreshing dip in your backyard, chlorinated pool sounds good, it’s disastrous for the environment. Besides the amount of water required to fill the pool, cement cracks and evaporation can lead to almost double the amount of water being used.
The National Leak Foundation in Mesa, Arizona, reported that 30% of pools have leaks in them, many of which go unnoticed due to the automatic refilling mechanism installed on most pools.
In addition, environments in the Southwest record some of the hottest temperatures during the summer, and in effect a 400 square-foot surface pool can lose over 2,500 gallons of water in one month!
The solution? Forgo the private pool and enjoy the public one at a park or private club. If you already have a pool, be sure to check for leaks in the liner and cracks underwater. In addition, always put a cover on your pool when it’s not being used.
Living in “Sin City”
Las Vegas may offer a lot, but in terms of sustainability, it’s lacking. Just choosing to live in the city means that the approximate amount of every resident’s resource use exceeds that of the average consumer.
How is this? Due to the hot and arid climate, evaporation is a major concern in Southwest cities. Vegas in particular is home to a number of golf courses and luxury resorts, and a large amount of water is needed to keep the grounds green and flourishing. According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, water laws already stand that restrict lawn size and assigned-day watering.
The Solution? Embrace the desert flora. Instead of working tirelessly for thirsty-looking lawns, Nevadans can landscape around their homes with cacti and other desert shrubbery. Other substitutes for those who don’t want to give up their green-looking front yards include: astro-turf, or other grass-substitutes which are affordable, easy to install, and (according to the EPA) can save residents 2/3 the cost of regular lawn water.
The consumption of meat is a controversial issue, but according to a UNESCO Institute for Water Education Study conducted between 1996-2005, “29% of the total water footprint of the agricultural sector in the world is related to the production of animal products.” The study also relayed that 1/3 of that is related to cattle production.
“The water footprint of any animal product is larger than the water footprint of a wisely chosen crop product with equivalent nutritional value,” the study stated.
The Solution? Consider cutting down on your meat consumption (Meatless Mondays is a growing craze), and focus on transitioning to a diet that includes healthier and more nourishing plant-based options.
Not Letting Your Yellow Mellow
Opening up the toilet lid and being greeted with a tank of un-flushed pee isn’t pleasant, however not flushing is only a minor offense compared to actually doing it. Networx reported that it takes 1.6 gallons of water to flush a mere 10 ounces of urine, rendering perfectly good water undrinkable. Since the average persons urinates around six times per day, that means the every individual flushes about 2,774 gallons of water yearly.
The Solution? Unless a #2 is initiated, don’t flush as frequently.
Buying From Your Barista
A steaming cup of java on the way to work keeps many commuters going, but the environmental/water effects aren’t as appreciable. In 2008 a scandal erupted around Starbucks’ water use. When a customer spotted a running faucet, she asked the barista why it was left on. The girl replied, “Oh, that’s just what we’re supposed to do.”
Starbucks’ “dipping wells”, as the streams of water were called, wasted 6 million gallons of water per day. While the company has so far decreased their water by about 21.6%, an enormous 4,704,000 gallons are still used every day.
The Solution? Brew your own fair-trade, organic coffee at home. Add in some local, raw, and untreated honey, some fresh coconut milk, and a drop of citrus essential oil, and you’ll find you never even needed the over-priced latte – plus you’re saving the Earth and its water supply.
Eating Grocery Store Produce
Buying at the local grocery store seems like the optimal option to attain fresh produce, right? Not nearly. The issue between buying at a farmers market versus the superstore, is that most people only see two differences: the price, and the convenience of the grocery store.
But conventional farming uses a significant amount of water, according to Wired Magazine, and the environmental effects are not favorable. The source cited that “70% of the world’s water consumption is used by farmers, and most of it is not going to good use.” Wasteful irrigation systems, overly-dry land that needs an abundance of water, and a lack of efficiency are a problem.
The Solution? Strive to obtain all your produce local, and optimally from an organic, bio-dynamic source. You can find local farms here, and even grow your own produce to ensure less water is wasted, and mineral-rich soil is being utilized to grow nourishing fare.
Being Too Clean in the Kitchen
Contrary to popular belief, a dishwasher can actually be more efficient at saving energy and water than hand washing. TreeHugger shared how this is only true if the machine is run when it is full, however. Oftentimes those who live alone or with one other person don’t’ think twice before running a half-empty dishwasher – and this is a big water waster.
The non-Energy Saver kind of dishwasher common in most households can use about 6-7 gallons of water for every load, and that amount adds up if only a few dishes are being cleaned in the process.
The Solution? Only run the dishwasher when it is full. If you can’t stand to have dirty dishes left sitting in the rack, wipe them with a damp cloth, or hand-wash them and be done with the task.
Being a Top Loader
Who knew that the structure of your washing machine could affect your water footprint? But the company Networx has reported that front-loading washing machines are often more energy and water efficient than top loading machines. Although the front-loading machine still uses 20 gallons of water per cycle, National Geographic claims that top-loaders use twice that amount.
The Solution? Invest in a front-loader washing machine and watch your water bill decline.
These uncommonly known water wasters can easily be fixed. Take action today so that water equality may be a reality for the future.