The average American goes through 80 to 100 gallons of water a day, according to the United States Geological Survey. Our homes basically run on water, considering all the toilets we flush, showers we take, and dishes we wash.
Meanwhile, according to our Giveback partners charity: water, there are currently 785 million people who lack access to clean water. Forget about watering plants in the garden or leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth—these are individuals who don’t even have the privilege of safe drinking water.
You can do a small part in fighting back against the global water crisis by forming lasting habits and making savvy purchases to reduce your own daily water usage.
1. Cut down your shower time
According to the CDC, the average American takes an 8 minute shower, which uses a total of 20 gallons of water. Imagine two 10 gallon water coolers just pouring down the drain in the time it takes you to shampoo your hair and sing through some of your favorite verses of Hamilton. We can all probably afford to take shorter showers (although yes, we know, we also get our best ideas in there).
Reducing your daily shower time by just 2 minutes will cut down your annual water consumption by over 912 gallons. That’ll save you $20, which is nice, but the environmental benefits are worth a lot more.
Looking to really conserve? Challenge yourself to start taking “submarine showers,” which use only 20 seconds of running water.
On your mark, get set, rinse!
2. Reduce your flush
The toilet is the appliance that uses the most water in your home, hands down. But when it comes to your porcelain throne, when it was made matters. Toilets built before 1982 use 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, while modern, low-flow toilets make do by using as little as 1.2 gallons.
If you’re a homeowner, take a look at the make and model of your toilets and update accordingly. Replacing an older toilet with a low-flush model can conserve over 10,000 gallons of water a year, saving you up to $200 on your water bill annually. It’s true that replacing your toilet can cost around $600, but this water-saving move should pay for itself in as little as 3 years.
If you’re a renter, consider discussing this water-saving move with your landlord. It might be a home improvement project they’re willing to invest in.
And if you’re willing to buck some societal norms, you can also refrain from flushing every time—the proverbial, ahem, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow.” There are bespoke products out there to make the practice a little more palatable.
3. Utilize recycled water to nourish your plants
There’s so much water waste that we rarely even think about, and a lot of it can be repurposed for our plants, lawns, and gardens.
Here’s some water that can have a second life rather than being dumped down the drain:
- Pet water bowls. If you have a dog or a cat, you know that their water needs to be replaced regularly. Instead of dumping the leftover water, toss it on your lawn or use it to water your plants.
- Aquarium water. Have some fishy friends? Their soiled aquarium water is a great natural fertilizer.
- Run-off from cleaning your produce. Set up a bowl under your fruit and veggies to collect the water while you give them a rinse.
- Ice cubes. No need to throw those cubes in the sink. Once you’re finished with your refreshing beverage, toss the remaining ice cubes on your lawn, or in your planters.
- Pasta water. It’s high in starch, which makes it a great base for rich and creamy sauces, and also a nutritious food for your plants!
4. Install a faucet aerator
A faucet aerator is a small metal or plastic mesh screen that fits on the end of the faucet. It breaks up the stream of water, adding air in between. An aerator allows for high water pressure, while significantly reducing the amount of water being used.
Depending on the type of faucet you have, a low-flow faucet aerator can cost less than a dollar, and can save over 4,000 gallons of water a year—which in turn can save you around 80 bucks annually.
Aerators are pretty easy to install and replace if you’re looking to DIY. This step-by-step video breaks it down into bite-sized pieces.
5. Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when they’re full
It might be tempting to wash your favorite tee the moment you toss it in the laundry basket, or run the dishwasher after every single meal. But by waiting to run these appliances until you have a full load, you’ll reduce your overall water consumption.
If you reduce your dishwasher use by one run a week (for example, if you run your dishwasher two times a week instead of three), you’ll save 312 gallons of water a year; if you reduce your washing machine use by one load a week (one full load a week instead of two smallish loads), you’ll save up to 1,560 gallons of water a year. These two small changes can save you over $340 a year.
BTW, you’ll actually save water by running your dishwasher as opposed to handwashing. One run of the dishwasher uses only 6 gallons of water, while running your faucet uses 1 to 2 gallons of water every minute.
Make an impact
Now that you’ve made some changes at home to conserve water, you can make an even bigger impact with our amazing partner charity: water, who have made it their mission to bring water to rural communities around the globe. Founded in 2006, they have since helped over 13 million people gain access to clean and safe water.
By signing up for Lemonade renters, homeowners, or pet health insurance, you can get the coverage you need while making a difference. In the meantime, flush, wash, water, and rinse responsibly.