Feeling down about the ongoing drought? There are lots of things you can do to preserve our limited water supply. Californians use an average of 196 gallons of water per day while Australians (in a similar climate) only 59 gallons per day—we can do better!
Here are some low-cost things you can do yourself:
1. Replace your toilet with a low-flush version: toilets use about 25% of residential water at about 3.5 gallons of water per flush. On average, Americans use 9,000 gallons of water each year to flush only 230 gallons of waste. Replacing your toilet with a low-flush toilet or using a toilet displacement device can greatly reduce water flushed down the toilet.
2. Use a low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators: showers account for about 20% of residential indoor water use, so using a showerhead that allows less water through per minute can greatly reduce the amount of water you use getting clean. Faucet aerators can reduce the amount of water used in your kitchen, bathroom, or elsewhere by as much as 60%.
3. Lose your lawn: lawn care accounts for about 30% of residential use of water, so attaching your garden to a grey water system, and exploring methods of irrigation (e.g. drip irrigation) that use less water can greatly reduce your outdoor water use.
4. Give your pipes a break: reducing the pressure in your pipes can save water by reducing the amount of water that comes out of your faucets.
And a few more simple steps:
1. In the kitchen: run the dishwasher only when it is completely full. If you wash your dishes by hand, fill the sink or a dishpan with water rather than running the water continuously. Try to cut down on the number of dishes you use. If you run the water before it heats up, collect this water in a bucket or other device and use it to water plants.
2. In the bathroom: turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten your shower by one minute—or more if you’re feeling ambitious. Check your toilet for leaks (put food coloring in the tank—if you see the coloring seeping into the bowl, you have a leak). Flush your toilet less often.
3. In the laundry room: adjust the water levels in your washer to match the size of the load; if your washing machine doesn’t have that option, only wash clothes when the washer is full.
4. Outside: water your lawn in the early morning or evening to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation. Allow your grass to grow taller to shade the roots and soil and reduce water loss from the soil. Grow California native plants, which use a lot less water than non-natives.
5. Diet: our diets often contain secret amounts of water, either through the production of the food, or its transportation. Try to eat foods that are grown more locally to cut down on the water involved in transporting these foods. Eat less meat and dairy. Tons of water goes into the production of meat and dairy products (one pound of beef uses, on average, 2,000 gallons of water to produce!).