It’s easy to see why water is so important. We can only survive for a few days without drinking it, we use it to grow the food we eat, and we need it to clean our clothes and dishes and our bodies. As clear as its value is, recent droughts in places like California and South Africa have driven home the point even more. We need to conserve water, especially since drought seasons and the growing season are approaching.
Why Conserve Water?
There are innumerable reasons we should conserve water. It’s connected to virtually every aspect of our lives, but it has many direct impacts as well. Here are just a few of the reasons why water conservation is so important.
- The Scarcity of Fresh Water: Although humans, animals and plants all need fresh water to survive, less than one percent of the water on earth is both fresh and accessible. Most of the world’s fresh water is trapped in glaciers and ice caps as well as underground. Much of the world’s rivers, lakes and other potential water sources are polluted.
- Food Production: Not only do we need water to drink, we also need it to grow food. Plants require water, and animals need to eat plants and drink water (which is why meat is far more water-intensive than plant-based foods). As the human population continues to expand and put pressure on food resources, the importance of water conservation increases.
- Climate Change: Conserving water can also help minimize the impacts of climate change. Running appliances that use water requires energy, as does processing water. This energy use releases greenhouse gas emissions. If we use too much water, we can also end up releasing dirty water into the environment.
- Disaster Recovery: It’s also important to conserve water to help populations recover from drought and other natural disasters. These dangerous events are expected to increase in frequency and severity as the climate continues to warm.
- Social Justice: Often, the people most impacted by water shortages and climate change are those who live in less developed countries or those who have lower incomes, making water conservation a social justice issue as well.
Water Conservation Tips
Luckily, conserving water isn’t a difficult thing to do. There are a lot of changes you can make right now that won’t change your life all that much. And they’ll also save you money on your water bill!
· Wait Until You Really Need It: Waiting until the dishwasher or washing machine is completely full to run it can help to save water. Also, use the dishwasher whenever possible since it requires less water than washing by hand as long as its not too old of a model and you run full loads.
· Turn Water Off Whenever Possible: Try to turn off running water anytime you’re not actively using it such as while you brush your teeth or wash your hair. Shutting it off even for these brief periods can add up to substantial savings. Turning off the faucet can save more than 100 gallons every month.
· Fix Leaks: A dripping faucet might not seem like it wastes a lot of water, but those lost drops add up over time. Fix any leaks, even small ones, as soon as you can. A leaky faucet can waste as much as 300 gallons per month.
· Install Water-Saving Devices: By installing some simple devices on your showerheads, sinks, toilets and other fixtures, you can reduce the amount of water they use. For a relatively small investment, you’ll cut down on your water use and save on your water bill, especially if you have older appliances.
· Water-Efficient Gardening: Being water-conscious doesn’t mean you have to stop gardening. Especially if you grow your own food, gardening can be quite good for the environment. You can make your garden more water efficient by planting more native plants and drought-resistant plants. You can also use mulch and plant when it’s cooler out to reduce water loss.
Because water is essential for life, we must all do our part to protect precious supplies. As we head into warmer seasons in many parts of the world, it’s especially important to keep these water conservation tips in mind.