Surprisingly, most of my friends are not environmental activists, or even count the environment as a priority in their everyday lives.
So when during a recent half-drunken concert after-party some friends started talking about water conservation practices at home, I was stunned. I mean, my friends and I never have these kinds of conversations! Why would they even know water conservation tips? To start with, less than 2% of the Earth’s water supply is fresh water. Of all the earth’s water, 97% is salt water found in oceans and seas.
Only 1% of the earth’s water is available for drinking water. Two percent is frozen, and much of what is available is polluted or carries water-borne diseases. Many experts predict that access to clean drinking water may be one of the main sources of conflict in coming years. According to UNICEF, about 884 million people lack adequate access to safe drinking water. Of course, what many see as a problem, multinationals like Monsanto see as an opportunity. Privatization of the water supply and consolidation of basic needs in the hands of ethically-bankrupt, unelected, and purely profit-driven MNCs.
“Monsanto plans to earn revenues of $420 million and a net income of $63 million by 2008 from its water business in India and Mexico. By 2010, about 2.5 billion people in the world are projected to lack access to safe drinking water. At least 30 per cent of the population in China, India, Mexico and the U.S. is expected to face severe water stress. By 2025, the supply of water in India will be 700 cubic km per year, while the demand is expected to rise to 1,050 units.
Control over this scarce and vital resource will, of course, be a source of guaranteed profits. As John Bastin of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has said, ‘Water is the last infrastructure frontier for private investors.’ Monsanto estimates that providing safe water is a several billion dollar market. It is growing at 25 to 30 per cent in rural communities and is estimated to rise to $300 million by 2000 in India and Mexico. The Indian Government spent over $1.2 billion between 1992 and 1997 for various water projects, while the World Bank spent $900 million. -(Vandana Shiva, Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, New Delhi.)
Besides the ecological impact of the billions of throw-away PET bottles, bottled water is a”$60-billion industry sold 241 billion liters of water in 2008, more than double the amount sold in 2000. Through its global advertising efforts, the industry has helped create the impression that bottled water is healthier, tastier, and more fashionable than publicly supplied water, even as studies have found some bottled water brands to be less safe than public tap water and to cost 240 to 10,000 times as much” (State of the World 2010)
In order to put water consumption in perspective, the average American uses 140-170 gallons (487-643 liters) of water per day. Hungarians use about 100 liters per capita per day (Viz Kozmu). If every household in America had a faucet that dripped once each second, 928 million gallons (3.5 billion liters) of water a day would leak away. An average family of four uses 881 gallons (3330 liters) of water per week just by flushing the toilet. 75% of water used indoors is in the bathroom, and 25% of this is for the toilet.
Even though I am the master of the 5-minute shower, I have been lazy on this front, and there is no reason to be. The fixes are easy, and usually free.
1. Make sure there are water-saving aerators on all of your faucets. This single best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!
2. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water & the other (or a big bowl) with rinse water.
3. Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons (3780 liters) a month.
4. For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
5. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap. Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.
6. If your shower fills a one-gallon (3.78 liter) bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model.
7. When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They’re more water and energy efficient.
8. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons (567 liters) per month. Turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons (76-151 liters) of water.
9. When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
10. Listen for dripping faucets and running toilets. Fixing a leaky tap can save 300 gallons (1134 liters) a month or more. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons (3780 liters) a month.
11. When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
12. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
13. Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
14. Grab a wrench and a washer and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and you can save 140 gallons (529 liters) a week. A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons (76 liters) of water per day.
15. Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.
16. Use a water-efficient showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons (283 liters) a month. Water-efficient shower heads help reduce water consumption by up to 40%. These can save a family of four up to 17,000 gallons (64260 liters)of water a year.
17. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
18. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons (95 liters) a month.
19. Insulate hot water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation for more immediate hot water at the faucet and for energy savings.This stuff is very cheap, easy to install, and is available at all hardware stores… You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
20. Make suggestions to your employer about ways to save water and money at work.
21. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car. You’ll save up to 100 gallons (378 liters) every time.
22. Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colors.
23. Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
24. Report broken pipes, open hydrants and errant sprinklers to property owners or water providers.
25. Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
26. Turn off the water while you wash your hair to save up to 150 gallons (567 liters) a month.
27. Turn off the water while you shave and save up to 300 gallons (1134 liters) a month.
28. When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs. If you accidentally drop ice cubesr, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead. When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, also give it to a plant.
29. To save water & time, consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.
30. While staying in a hotel or even at home, reuse your towels.
31. When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.
32. Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.
33. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush. There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.
34. Rinse your razor in the sink. Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.
Sources: www.wateruseitwisely.com, www.treehugger.hu