Written by Kirsten Toft, ESLLC 2015-2016
Many of us are concerned about conserving water, but we may be using a lot more water than we are aware. There are some common activities that can cause a lot of water to be used and you may be surprised to find out what they are.
We know that saving electricity is good because it brings down the bill and reduces use of fossil fuels, but how many people know that you’re actually saving water too by saving energy! That’s right, most people in the U.S. get their electricity from power companies that use thermoelectric power (power from coal, natural gas, nuclear fuels, etc.), which has a large water footprint. On average, a person in the U.S. uses 39 gallons per day just from power production! So while you’re cutting down the money you spend on energy, you can also be reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving water! The best thing you probably can do to save money, help the environment, and conserve water is switching your electricity solely to solar power.
Another sneaky way to save water and money is by shopping smarter. Did you know it takes 1,800 gallons just to grow the cotton needed to make a pair of jeans? And 400 gallons to make a t-shirt? And that’s just to grow the cotton; it does not take into account the water needed to transport and produce the end-products! Water is needed to create everything (including plastic water bottles). Some great ways to conserve water by shopping smarter are cutting down the amount of clothes you buy or how frequently you buy them, not upgrading your cellphone every time (because it probably still works fine), and by buying/using more reusable items rather than disposable. You can use reusable water bottles, razors, plates, cups, and silverware, plastic containers instead of Ziploc baggies, and lunch pails rather than paper bags just to name a few. Again, you can save money and save water at the same time.
Finally, changing your diet can help you save water and money as well as help the environment. It takes an unbelievable amount of water to produce animal products such as meat and dairy. In fact, people who eat meat have a water footprint that is double that of vegans and vegetarians. This is because the animals raised for meat (or dairy) drink a lot of water. They also eat a lot of water, in a sense; their food (mainly grains and soybeans) are pretty water-intensive and it takes a lot to grow them, process them into feed, and transport the feed to the animals. Then it takes an additional ton of water to transport the animals to slaughter and process and package their bodies, then transport them to the grocery store. This also is creating tons of unnecessary carbon emissions. Meat is expensive: it hurts not only your wallet, but the water budget and the carbon budget a lot. Try cutting back on animal products (specifically meat) for a while. Meatless Monday is a good start as it is only one day a week! Try to also eat more whole fruits and vegetables since a lot of water is used to package any foods. And last, but not least, eating locally grown foods will reduce the distance food has to be transported which greatly reduces water use and carbon emissions.
I hope these tips helped you spot the sneaky culprits and turn into a water saving ninja.
Calculate your water footprint here: http://www.watercalculator.org/
“How Many Gallons of Water Does It Take to Make . . .” TreeHugger. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.
“Water Saving Tips: Energy Use.” GRACE Communications Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.
“Water Saving Tips: Food Choices.” GRACE Communications Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.
“Water Saving Tips: Shopping Smarter.” GRACE Communications Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2016.