Water Conservation

Water conservation

We hear a lot about carbon footprints, but did you know that you also have a water footprint? Your water footprint is actually far bigger than the water you consume for drinking and washing dishes; it includes the water that was used to grow your food, makes your clothes, and much more. According to Water Footprint Network, “Everything we use, wear, buy, sell and eat takes water to make.” Why is our water footprint important here in Portland? Well, it’s important everywhere. We need to make sure that there’s enough freshwater to go around. The smaller our water footprint, the more sustainable it is. (If you’re interested, you can calculate yours here.) We know that thinking about all of the water that you use — even without realizing it — can feel a bit, er, overwhelming, but a good place to start making positive changes is at home. Here are some easy ways to conserve water in your everyday life:

Turn the tap off when you’re not actively using the water.

Don’t let the water run for the entire length of your 20-second hand washing session or while you’re brushing those pearly whites. This is actually a really common practice and simply opting out can save an enormous amount of water — over 1,000 gallons of water per year, per person.

Invest in an Energy Star-rated dishwasher.

The average Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses about four gallons of water with each cycle, which is about half as much as hand washing. Once you’ve done that…

Hold off on running the dishwasher (and washing machine) until it’s full. Like really full.

We’ve all washed a micro load of dishes or clothes for one reason or another, but even Energy Star appliances use a significant amount of water with each wash cycle. (Four gallons of drinking water is enough to last the average adult nearly a week.)

Be conscious of how much time you spend in the shower.

The average shower uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. Per-minute! Depending on your water pressure and showerhead, that number could be even higher. Now, if you take a 15-minute shower, which isn’t really even that long of a shower, you’re using more than 30 gallons of water. Shaving just two minutes off your shower time would conserve upwards of 1,500 gallons of water in a year. Crazy, eh?

Turn off the lights.

You read that correctly. According to a 2011 Scientific American article, “Virtually every source of electricity in a typical American home or manufacturing plant — whether it comes from hydroelectricity, coal, natural gas, nuclear, biofuels, or even concentrated solar — requires water. Lots of water.” Save electricity, save water.

Last but not leak…

Leaks may seem inconsequential in the big scheme of things, but we promise you they’re not. If you’ve got one faucet that drips once per minute in your Portland-area home, you’re wasting 35 gallons of water every year. And that’s a slow drip.

Got drips? Fortunately, you know a guy.

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