Water scarcity is an increasingly common reality. Around the world, 3.6 billion people currently live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month of the year, and this is expected to increase to up to 5.7 billion people by 2050. To stave off scarcity, we’d be wise to get accustomed to using less water – ideally before we reach the point where we have no choice! Here are some easy ideas for getting water-wise:
Switching off the tap while you shampoo your hair or brush your teeth will save you six liters a minute. Shorter showers, full washing loads instead of half-loads, and fewer toilet flushes also make a difference; if you’re able to, go for water-efficient appliances like a reduced-flow shower head, a front-loading washing machine and a dual-flush toilet (or better still, a composting one).
If you’ve got one, and you fill it up completely, you’ll use less water than you would doing the dishes in the sink – even if you’re using a washing-up bowl.
Our diets account for around half of all the water we use, and animal products are some of the most water-intensive – for instance, it takes an average of 15,415 liters to produce just one kilo of beef, while the same amount of vegetables requires an average of just 322 liters. There’s also considerable variation depending on how things are grown – an avocado grown conventionally in arid Petorca, Chile, has around double the water footprint of one grown in tropical Michoacán, Mexico, using precision irrigation and regenerative techniques. Eating locally and in season, where possible, is usually a good way to go.
About a third of all the food we produce is lost or wasted between farm and fork every year – a lot of water (and greenhouse gas emissions) for nothing. Find waste-avoiding tips at Love Food Hate Waste, and go a step further by composting the waste you can’t avoid instead of using a water-hungry in-sink disposal system or sending it to landfill to emit damaging methane emissions.
This will serve your plants much better than watering in the middle of the day, when water quickly evaporates with the light and heat. Bonus points for collecting rainwater, or greywater from your showers or sink, for your watering routine.
It’s not all in our hands. Letting our government representatives – and the companies we buy from – know that we care about water is another critical part of taking care of this resource for ourselves, our ecosystems and future generations.
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