To mark and celebrate World Water Day, we thought we might share some useful water-saving tips and tricks with you! But first here are some Facts and Figures about water use;
- Did you know that Water covers 70.9 percent of the planet’s surface and 97 per cent of that is salt water?
- Around the world, 2.1 billion people still lack access to safe water.
- Water use is growing at twice the rate of population growth. If we don’t find a way to share water fairly and sustainably across the world, two-thirds of the global population will face water “stress” by 2025.
- In the USA, the average water footprint per year per capita is as much as the water needed to fill an Olympic swimming pool, an average of 7,786 litres of water per person per day.
- In China, the average water footprint is 2,934 litres of water per person per day.
- In the Netherlands, 95 per cent of the water footprint of consumption lies somewhere else in the world (due to the amount of imported goods consumed), whereas in India and Paraguay only 3 per cent of the national water footprint of consumption is external.
- It requires around 1500 litres of water to produce 1 kilo of wheat, and a huge 10 times more to produce the same amount of beef.
- The water footprint of a cup of coffee is around 140 litres, a cup of tea only around 34 litres.
In the UK, about 1% of the water footprint is at home. The average consumer will use 21 litres of water per day for drinking, washing, cooking etc. The other 99% of a consumer’s footprint is ‘invisible’. In other words, it relates to products bought in supermarkets, or used in the workplace and in transportation.
So, with that in mind, here are some tips to help you save water. See what might work for you and feel free to share any other tips you have that we have not mentioned on our list.
- Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth; A running tap uses up to 9 litres of water a minute. Turning the water off while you actually brush and using a short burst of water for cleaning your brush off can save about 80% of the water normally used.
- Partially filling the sink with water to use when washing or shaving, rather than running the tap continuously, can save about 60% of the water normally used. Use short bursts of water to clean razors.
- If possible, take a shower instead of a bath. A five-minute shower uses about 40 litres of water, which is about half the volume of a standard bath. Also using either a low-flow shower head or adjustable flow-reducer devices on your shower heads can reduce flow by at least 25%. You can also fit a water flow-reducer attachment to taps to reduce water usage.
- Using a water-saving device in your toilet cistern (depending on the size of your cistern) could save you between one and three litres each time you flush the toilet. You could reduce water usage by 40% to 50% by installing low-flush toilets.
- Make sure to always turn taps off tightly so they do not drip.
- Check regularly for leaks on your internal plumbing and promptly repair any leaks in and around your taps; one leak can waste several thousand litres of water per year!
- If you insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation, you’ll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.
- Clean fruit and vegetables in a pot or bowl instead of washing under running water and then you can use the “greywater” to water your house or garden plants.
- Don’t throw unused water from cups/glasses down the drain; this can be used to water house plants instead. Any leftover bottled water can also be used to water plants. Fizzy water is particularly good as it is aerated.
- Don’t automatically throw out the water used to boil veggies – it can be used as a base for your homemade stock following a roast dinner, or used to make instant gravy instead of water from a boiled kettle (also means any remaining vitamins in the water boiled out of veg won’t be entirely lost!)
- Water used to boil pasta in can also be reused! It can be used as broth in soup or an ingredient in bread as it retains some starch and flavour. You can cook rice in leftover pasta water as it adds some flavour and richness to rice. You can loosen a thick sauce with pasta water. You can add a little pasta water to a compost bin if you’re already composting, or use pasta water to water your plants – but remember to discard the water when it gets too cloudy; it can only be re-used so many times!
- Water used to rinse rice can also be reused; water from the first rinse can be used for non-cooking tasks like cleaning and polishing and water from a second or third rinse can be used for cooking purposes.
- Equally, you can use the leftover water from boiling potatoes in much the same ways, but it has added benefits because potato water is packed full of added nutrients extracted from the potatoes themselves during the boiling process. Nutrients include vitamins B and C, potassium and fibre, and phytonutrients like carotenoids and flavonoids which are thought to promote good overall health. Potato water can be added when making bread or doughs to improve the taste and texture. Potato water can be used as a thickening agent, to thicken soups, stews and sauces, or used to make a basic gravy without having to add any extra thickeners. It’s particularly useful for people who are allergic to corn or wheat, or people following a gluten-free lifestyle, as potato water is a suitable substitute for flour or cornflour thickener. You can also water plants and even give potato water to your animals; add it to your chicken scrap pail or even pour it over your dog or cat’s food to give them some extra nutrients.
- Around the home try using environmentally friendly only cleaning products that will not harm the environment when they are washed away after use.
- Never dispose of medicines, paints or other pollutants down the sink or flush these down the toilet.
- It helps to buy Energy-efficient Appliances, so pay attention to water and energy usage when selecting washing machines and dishwashers. Wherever possible, wait until you have a full load before using either machine and use the shortest cycle possible. Some new washing machines use less than 7 litres of water for each kg of clothes, while modern dishwashers can use as little as 10 – 15 litres of water a cycle; older machines can use up to five times that amount!
- If you do have a dishwasher, don’t wash dishes by hand. A fully-loaded dishwasher uses less water and energy than handwashing. Remember that you don’t need to rinse your dishes first; a well-maintained dishwasher gets all dishes clean.
- When hand-washing dishes, partially fill the sink or a basin to soak and wash, then rinse dishes with the tap, rather than running the tap continuously. When washing, start with the least dirty dishes first. You can then “recycle” the remaining water for washing dirtier dishes, or even to mop your floors, before putting it down the drain.
- Wash your car the water-efficient way – with a bucket and sponge or rag. By simply turning the hose off between rinses you could save up to 680 litres of water every time you wash your car! Using a pressure washer uses over 450 litres of water per hour so best to avoid this too!
- When gardening, use a watering can instead of a sprinkler or a hosepipe. Garden sprinklers and hosepipes left running can use between 500 – 1,000 litres of water an hour. Water during the cool part of the day, in the morning or evening and don’t water on windy days. Don’t over-water in anticipation of a shortage as soil cannot store extra water.
- Think about fitting a water butt to collect rainwater off your roof. Water butts usually store about 200 litres of water. As well as being better for watering your plants, using rainwater in the garden reduces the amount of treated water you use.
- Using water wisely and cutting down on the amount of hot water you use can be beneficial in several ways both for yourself and for the environment; You can lower your gas and electricity bills saving you money. It also reduces the amount of climate-changing greenhouse gases you release into the atmosphere and using less water also helps reduce the greenhouse gases that are released from collecting, treating and supplying clean water.
We hope you found some of these tips and hints useful and that you can implement the ones that would work for you, so we can all work together to save water! Happy World Water Day!
Compiled by Natalie Johnston on behalf of The Wombles!