We think about water conservation a lot in the hot summer months, but it's also important to implement water-saving practices that we can continue to use all year-round. Water is a daily constant in our lives, with some everyday uses wasting more than you may think (the standard bathroom faucet runs 2.2 gallons a minute!). By making small water-conscious adjustments in our routines, we can save both money and conserve untold gallons of water.
Sometimes it seems like one person saving water is just a drop in the bucket. As the residents of Cape Town, South Africa, have discovered, though, every little bit matters. Cape Town has been facing the threat of complete drought for many years. Combined forces of declining dam levels and little rainfall caused a city-wide water crisis, with 'Day Zero' marking the day when the city's taps would be turned off. Day Zero was predicted to happen earlier this year, but water-saving measures pushed it out to 2019, averting disaster.
By coming together to conserve water as best they could, the citizens of Cape Town managed to reduce their water use by more than half, going from 3.17 billion gallons to 130 million gallons used daily city-wide. Here are some of the ways they helped stave off drought, as well as some more tips for cooking and outdoor water use:
- Limit your shower length, and turn off the water when shaving (Cape Town residents kept showers under 90 seconds!).
- When brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth out with a cup of water rather than letting the tap run.
- Try to flush the toilet as little as possible. If it's yellow, let it mellow!
- Make sure your toilet isn't leaking (to test this, put a couple of drops of food coloring into the tank and if there is color in the toilet bowl after at least an hour, you have a leak).
- Only wash clothes when you have a full load of laundry.
- Put all your dishes in the dishwasher, if possible. Make sure to only run it when it's full, and if you really need to rinse dishes before putting them in, do so in a pan of water rather than letting the sink faucet run.
- Rinse vegetables in a pan of water or a filled-up sink.
- Leave food in the fridge overnight instead of defrosting in cold water.
- Water your plants in the early morning or late evening.
- Set your lawn mower blades a notch or two higher (longer grass helps with moisture retention and limits evaporation after watering).
Try calculating your water use with this water footprint calculator to really see where you can cut back. By incorporating these small adjustments into your life, you can help save hundreds of gallons of water every day.