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
AS AN ASSET MANAGER
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]