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6 Simple Ways to Save Water in Your Everyday Life

When it comes to water consumption, small changes are actually big ones. Here's how to save water in your everyday life.

Written by
Jenna Mignano

In certain parts of the world—like California, which is experiencing its driest year on record—droughts are becoming less of an occasional occurrence and more of a way of life.

Our easy access to potable water can allow us to forget that it’s a precious natural resource. As the effects of climate change become more tangible in the form of higher temperatures, natural disasters, and, yes, drought, water will be essential for our continued survival. Don’t take your faucet or shower for granted—it’s imperative to do what we can now to preserve our reserves. 

If you’ve set a goal to reduce your water footprint, we’re here to help. Fortunately, when it comes to increasing conscientiousness around your water consumption, small habits compound to create big change.

Here are six common areas that find water over-expended, along with simple ways to curb (or simply notice) your usage.

How to Save Water: 6 Simple Changes to Make

1. Revisit Your Bathroom Routine

The bathroom is centered on water use, which makes it a great place to start when cutting down. To begin, choose to take a shower instead of a bath: While a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water, a bath uses around 50.

But the real culprit in your bathroom? Your toilet. Flushing the toilet is the everyday action that requires the most amount of water in your home—4 to 6 gallons per flush, to be exact. Though this action is necessary, there are easy ways to reduce your use. To begin, change out the flapper on your toilet tank for a water-saving version for better efficiency (and a reduced water bill). And if you don't need to flush... refrain.

Lastly, remember to turn off the sink when brushing your teeth, shaving, or doing your skincare routine.

2. Reimagine Your Yard or Garden

Traditional gardens and landscaping are huge water guzzlers. To mitigate this, get to know your region and garden with area-specific plants that are drought-resistant and require less water. You can even explore alternative landscaping and low-maintenance lawn alternatives, like clover lawns and native gardens.

The EPA reports that as much as 50% of outdoor water use is lost to inefficient watering—and given that as much as 30% of our water intake occurs outdoors, this is a sobering stat. When considering ways to save water, take a second look at how you water your lawn and garden and seek out methods that are more efficient and sensible.

Don't overwater out of habit, get to know how much water the specific plants in your garden actually need. And, if you're committed to your lawn, brown is still the new green.

3. Go Paperless!

The creation of paper is a water-intensive process. The creation of pulp, the existence of paper mills, and the effects of deforestation combine to result in about six gallons of water per pound of paper.

Brainstorm about what in your life can be digitized—from receipts to note-taking. And when a corporation offers the option of going paperless, remember that the answer is always yes.

3. Use the Dishwasher

Hand washing your dishes may seem like the most eco-friendly option, but the opposite is actually true.

Dishwashers are, in fact, a great tool for cutting down water use in the kitchen. Some dishwashers use as little as two gallons of water per load, versus hand washing, which can require more than 20 gallons of water. In some cases, dishwashers literally use less water than a single toilet flush.

4. Consume Less Water-Intensive Food

When it comes to food, the most glaring offender in the resource-intensive category is the production of red meat like beef and lamb; poultry products also make the list. In addition to animal agriculture, many nuts and nut products require a wealth of water—one almond, for example, requires four gallons of water.

An unfortunate addition to this list is chocolate. It can take up to 450 gallons of water to produce 3.5 grams of chocolate. Does this mean you have to eschew all of your favorite foods? Of course not! Just be aware and do your best to enjoy them sparingly—incorporating low-water-intensity foods into your diet can result in a menu that's equally delicious.

5. Know Your Clothing

The textile industry has a serious water problem. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water annually. This isn't exactly an intelligent allocation of resources, as, in the United States, one garment is worn less than 50 times on average.

As always, buy with intention and avoid impulse purchases. Secondhand is king, but if you're buying new, avoid synthetic fabrics and opt for natural, less resource-intensive options like cotton, hemp, or linen.

6. Purchase Less Plastic

Plastic results in widespread pollution and requires an enormous amount of water in its production. It takes 22 gallons of water to create one pound of plastic. Though single-use plastic remains a ubiquitous aspect of daily life, simply choosing an alternative option whenever possible is one of the quickest ways to save water while encouraging meaningful change.