It's not Just for Californians: 14 Water Saving Tips for Everyone


Golden Staters are accustomed to conserving water as a matter of habit. Many communities are now or will be under mandatory water rationing, including mine, so I’ve had to figure out how I can improve on my already conservative water use habits. But, conservation is important for everyone for two reasons: 1), worldwide, we are facing water shortages of unknown magnitude in the coming years, so everyone should do his or her part and 2) saving water also saves energy. 6.5% of the energy used in the state of California is for pumping and treating water.

The way I see it, there are three tiers of water conservation, depending on how far you’re willing to go:

1-5. Low-hanging fruit: conservation measures so easy, they won’t inconvenience you at all.

- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes, and the hose while washing your car.

- Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints.

- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher.

- Sweep the driveway and patio instead of hosing it off.

- Water your garden or yard in the cool of the morning or evening to lessen evaporation.

6-11. Intermediate: slightly more inconvenient, but will make you feel righteous!

- Install water-saving showerheads or flow restrictors.

- Shorten your showers. Or better yet, turn off the water while lathering up.

- Don’t shower every day. Take a sponge bath instead.

- Don’t flush every time. It’s not that bad.

- Capture the tap and shower water that runs while you’re waiting for it to get hot and use it to water your garden or flush your toilet.

- The old "brick in the toilet tank": displacing water in your toilet tank with a brick or plastic bottle weighted with rocks or marbles will save 5 to 10 gallons a day.

12-14. Water warrior level: you get a gold star!

- Replace your toilet, washer, and dishwasher with low water use options.

- Rip out the lawn and plant a lovely drought resistant garden.
Here’s how.

-Install a grey water system.

Every drop counts! (Here are even more water-saving tips if you’re really into it.)

Image: lucianvenutian

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.