This is Day 119 of the Green in 365 series!
So we can’t talk about going green in the bathroom without discussing the importance of conserving water. Water is one of those resources that we so easily take for granted.
For the majority of us that live in the US or other first world countries, we don’t have to wonder where our water is going to come from today. We turn on our faucets and water flows in an unending stream; we can choose scalding hot, medium tepid, or freezing cold water with the turn of a handle. We can wash our hands, brush our teeth, take a shower, flush our toilets, without giving the water necessary to perform those actions a second thought.
But for millions of people around the world, their reality is vastly different. Women can’t work because most of their time and energy every day is spent seeking and gathering water. And many times, the water that they do have access too is contaminated, meaning that children can’t go to school due to sickness from contaminated water. Read more.
For those of us blessed enough to have a constant and clean water source, it is not a right that we are entitled to. The average American uses 100 gallons of water every single day, and even though water might seem like an infinite resource, it’s not. Less than 1% of the world’s water is available for human use. (source)
We need to be good stewards of the resource of water that we have been given, and as we use our water, we should always be mindful of those who are not as fortunate as we are.
There are lots of easy ways to begin conserving water in your bathroom and around your home.
6 Easy Ways to Conserve Water
1. Turn off the faucet.
Whenever you’re doing something at the sink, like washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or shaving, you should make the effort to turn off the faucet so it’s not running the whole time, wasting water down the drain.
2. Take shorter, and even fewer, showers.
Gasp! Yes, I said it, I am of the opinion that you don’t always need to shower every day. I think we are conditioned by our culture to think that we need to shower daily. Sure there are times when we need daily showers, when it’s hot out, or we’ve exercised, and we’re sweaty and stinky. But for just normal day to day, I don’t believe a daily shower is necessary, showering less often saves water and other resources.
But, if you’re in the: I have to shower every day camp, then you can make an effort to shorten your showers. Set a timer and see if you can cut a couple minutes off of your daily shower time.
3. Bathe children together.
Showers use less water than baths, so if you give your children a bath like we do, save water by bathing them together. Our kids love to play in the bath together, and it makes bath time go much more quickly than if we bathed them each on their own.
And while we’re talking about bathing children, the same thing applies that they don’t need to be bathed every single day – unless they are like my son in the summer time and covered from head to toe in sweat and dirt. But overall, I think children only need to be bathed a few times a week – it’s better for their skin not to be exposed to the hot water, and chlorine in the water, on a daily basis.
Photo by stevendepolo
4. Use a low-flow shower head and faucet aerator.
Low flow shower heads and faucets are widely available, affordable, easily installed, and can make a big difference in the amount of water your family uses on a daily basis. The EPA has a WaterSense program, similar to the Energy Star rating, that can help you to find products that use at least 20% less water than conventional models, and can save hundreds of gallons of water every year.
5. Flush Less.
You’ve heard the saying; If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. And this is a good rule to follow at home to help conserve and save water when flushing the toilet.
Another option that a reader gave is: Flush after 2 #1’s or 1 #2. That one makes me laugh, but is basically the same idea, if you can tell the toilet has been used before you, flush when you’re finished, unless you’re going #2, then you should always flush when you’re done.
6. Fix Leaks
A leaky faucet or toilet can waste a ton of water over time. For the average American household, water leaks can waste up to 11,000 gallons of water per year – that equals 270 loads of laundry! (source) So take a few minutes to fix that slow drip, and save water and money!
How do you consciously conserve water at your home?
Find all the Green in 365 posts.
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Kim Daly says
Great tips, Emily. Living in arid CO, we try to be very aware of water use. We almost never flush our toilets unless it’s #2, and I use my daughter’s used bath water to water my plants. They love the all-natural soap residue!
My kids rarely flush. I didn’t realize they were just trying to conserve water! LOL.
Melinda J. says
We’ve only been showering a few days a week for awhile now. I’ve never given my kids daily baths because I didn’t want to dry out their skin. Now that my oldest is almost 11, he needs more showers based on the smell test 😉 I shower 3 times a week basically b/c I’m lazy. But it’s nice to remember that these are good things b/c we are conserving water. I have been known to take long showers though b/c it feels great (I have fibromyalgia so it’s soothing to my muscles) and it’s a chance to get some “me” time. As far as the “if it’s yellow” mantra, we don’t do that alot, but I know it can help. I would suggest to your readers to really try this! You’ll save time as well, when you shower less. And I promise you won’t stink! Hehe. Enjoy!
Dawn Gray says
Great post, Emily! We all need to be conscious of being wasteful! Now, can we talk about toilet paper? hehehe! My kids use WAY too much! lol! Thank you for this post. Sharing on facebook on The GRAY Area.
Dusty Krikau says
Our toilets were old and it pained me to watch the amount of water going down with every flush. We invested in dual-flow conversion kits and then when the time came to replace the toilets made the switch to dual-flush toilets. We love them and they are still good flushers!
I’ve got two conversion kits in my garage if you’re interested…they worked really well for the year and half that we used them.
You can also just turn the water on halfway for lots of things (quick hand rinse, quick dish rinse, wetting a rag, etc.) You’re right–we use way too much water without thinking about it!
These are great ideas. In the winter we use the water from our rain barrel, which we got for a reasonable price from a local conservation organization, to flush our toilets, since we don’t need it for watering our garden. We also keep a bucket in the shower to catch as much water as we can from our rain shower head – while it’s heating, while shampooing, etc, and use that to flush. My mother always did this and I was mortified at her frugality; now I find myself following in her footsteps!
This is a project that my son made for Earth Day– How to Conserve Water.
I need to check out our shower heads . . . that has been on my list ever since we moved.
Ulrike Coulliette says
Those are all good ideas, and I agree we use so much unnecessary water without even thinking about it. I also find a major water waster is watering the grass. Do our lawns really have to look so super green? I know, some people have a Homeowners’ Association and could not get away with it, but for the rest of us watering less or not at all is a valid option. Our lawn is perfectly green now in the spring but will look quite different come fall. And guess what? Next spring it will be green again, We also don’t have to mow as often in the summer, since it grows slower. (I wish I could say the same about the dandelions…)
I live in a 2-story house where the bathroom is not above the kitchen; the water heater is under the bathroom, so the hot water has to run about 30 feet across the basement ceiling to reach the kitchen sink. When I am setting up to wash dishes and running the water until it gets hot, I set the watering can in the sink to catch the cold water. Then after I have the sink full of dishes soaking in hot soapy water, I go water the plants!
That’s about the extent of my water-saving, though–I am a glutton for hot showers! I do limit them to every other day in the colder months, though. In summer, I turn off the water while I’m soaping up, but in winter I can’t stand getting chilled by doing that.
Like Lily, we keep a bucket in the shower to collect un-warmed water, then use it for flushing the toilet. We’re also a “shower/bathe as needed” family and that averages to every 2-3 days. If any of our drinking cups still have water in them at the end of the day, then it gets used for watering houseplants. Water gets turned off while brushing teeth.
But I take really long, really hot showers. 🙂