Rose Naseef, Go Green La Grange!
Why is it important to conserve water?
Water is vital for living things. As the world population grows, many people are concerned that there will not be enough water for people to drink and to use for growing food. In addition to individuals’ use of water for drinking and farmers’ use of water for growing food, corporations use water to manufacture products and to create energy. When industries consume excessive amounts of water, the local residents often face greater difficulty in accessing water. In many parts of the world, including the United States, there are water shortages as well as efforts to privatize water.
In addition to scarcity, water contamination is also a problem. Industrial processes, energy production and sewage can pollute water. Gasoline, oils, road salts, fertilizers or pesticides that run off impervious surfaces when it rains also cause water pollution. Because of contamination, water often has to be filtered and/or chemically treated before it is safe to drink. Treating water is energy-intensive and costly. Thus, it is important not only to keep contaminants out of our water but also to use treated water conscientiously.
Ways to Conserve Water
In the home:
- Purchase appliances that use water efficiently. These include dishwashers, washing machines, toilets, and shower heads.
- Take short showers. Showers use less water than baths.
- Reuse water. If you wash vegetables, reuse the water on your indoor or outdoor plants. You can even put a bucket in your shower and use the water collected to flush toilets or water plants!
- Fill your dishwasher and washing machine before running.
- Check your plumbing for leaks.
- Learn how much water is used in the items you purchase. Creating electricity, manufacturing products, and growing food require water. If you research the amount of water required for the products you purchase, you can make more informed decisions. For example, does it make sense to purchase a cola if the production will deplete local drinking water? Read here to learn about effects of a Coca-Cola bottling plant on the local water supply in an Indian community.
In the yard:
- Add native, perennial plants to your landscaping. They are well suited for our climate and, once established, require little water. They also absorb more rainwater than lawns and, as a result, they keep water out of the sewer system and they reduce flooding and runoff pollution.
- Avoid watering your lawn. Unless the weather is especially dry, lawns will survive with little or no watering. In the hottest part of the summer, grass goes dormant and browns slightly. It should become greener once the weather cools.
- Install rain barrels. Rain barrels allow you to capture rainwater from your rooftop. Capturing the rainwater reduces the burden on sewers and reduces runoff. Storing the rainwater for later use allows you to use less treated water, which saves energy and reduces pollution.
For two good lists, see Sierra Club’s Green Home Water Conservation Overview
- Sierra Club Water Fixtures and Plumbing
- Treehugger’s 7 Simple, Unexpected Ways to Save Water