Educational Tools

Water-saving Tips

NWNL on How to Save our Freshwater Resources

THREATS to our freshwater resources can sound dismal… but — there’s good news. We can reduce consumption and make a difference using a guitar, a green thumb, art and especially – enthusiasm!

We can start new habits! Africans use 5 to 13 gallons of water/day on average. Europeans use 30 gallons/day. But in North America, we use 150 gallons/person/day on average. We must use LESS! Think about how you currently use water, THEN follow some of these ideas!


  • Cut your shower time in half — or use low-flow showerheads
  • Place a bucket in the shower to collect water for your plants while you wash
  • Turn water off while you brush your teeth
  • Run the dishwasher only when it’s full
  • Make sure you have no leaks or dripping faucets
  • Avoid flushing when the water is just yellow and use low-flow toilets
  • Recycle your shower water, kitchen sink water, etc. for lawns, gardens
  • Delay doing laundry or showering during a storm to reduce urban storm-water runoff
  • Take unused medications to your town’s Alternative Medicine Cabinet for safe disposal


  • Reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers (compost instead!)
  • Don’t dump garbage down storm drains or in waterways
  • Don’t toss cigarette butts in the street – they are non-biodegradable
  • Compost leaves and yard waste
  • Direct gutters and spouts away from paved surfaces to reduce runoff into storm drains
  • Wash cars on unpaved ground so soap won’t flow into storm drains, and use a bucket not a hose
  • Check your car for oil leaks that might wash away into waterways
  • Recycle motor oil – don’t toss it!
  • Clean up your pets’ waste
  • Have your septic tank and septic system inspected regularly
  • Plant trees and drought-tolerant, native vegetation
  • Use drip irrigation rather than sprinklers; and don’t water the sidewalk!
  • Use rain barrels and use that water to wash your car and water your plants
  • Sweep your sidewalks, patios and driveways, rather than hosing them down

As a Consumer

  • Buy low-flow toilets and showerheads
  • Buy appliances built to conserve water and energy
  • Buy a water filter if needed, not individual plastic bottles of water


Water is a household asset to be managed just like your property, your car, your children’s educational funds or your IRA.

  • Contribute what you can to stewardship agencies
  • Invest in green funds

Get Your Community Involved

  • Organize and join river, pond and highway Clean-Up Days to remove trash and pollutants
  • Monitor your water quality – this can be done by school groups, clubs, etc.
  • Enhance access points for fishing, boating, camping, photography.…
  • Restore riparian areas and establish riparian buffer zones to minimize flooding
  • Plan educational walks and paddle trips
  • Organize a “Save our Water” concert
  • Start an Alternative Medicine Cabinet in your town for safe disposal of unused medicine

Use the Privileges of Citizenship

  • Request low-flow showerheads and toilets in public places, hotels, gyms, etc.
  • Ask your local water company to install differentiated pipes to return recycled water for usage in laundry – toilets – gardens – even drinking water! (Orange County, CA, did this back in 1976. Even black water can be treated to be purer than the water you are drinking now!)
  • Oppose development sprawl, new highways and impermeable surfaces
  • Vote for development and funding of alternative, sustainable technologies
  • Support land conservation and Open Space (only 13% of Earth is protected land)
  • Tell your legislators what you’re doing – and then you can ask more of them!
  • Demand legal and pricing controls for water usage so agriculture will turn to more effective irrigation and more drought-tolerant crops
  • Ask your elected officials to create a 5- or 10-year plan with goals to cut water and energy usage
  • Support mass transportation and request no salt is used to de-ice roadways
  • Vote for town plans with denser communities to be more energy efficient and share services


No Education – No Water! If one Kenyan Maasai could create an environment curriculum now in all Maasai elementary schools, we can be more proactive here in the US!

  • Learn the virtual water content of food and products we consume. For instance:
    • Beef needs 3x the amount of water as chicken – eat more chicken
    • Rice needs 40x the amount of water as potatoes – eat more potatoes
    • Beer has lower water footprint than wine!
    • 1 sheet of paper consumes almost 3 gallons of water in production – print less
    • 1 orange needs 13 gallons of water to get to the grocery shelf
    • 1 slice of bread needs 11 gallons of water to get to the grocery shelf
    • 1 cotton shirt needs 713 gallons of water to be grown and produced
  • Encourage children to start Watershed Protection Clubs

[Published February 19, 2016]