Picture: Save water by turning off the tap when brushing your teethWhether it’s plastic in the oceans or diesels poisoning the air we breathe, us humans have developed a lot of bad habits that are putting a strain on the world we live in.
And now, water, that luxury that us first-world types are so fortunate to be able to rely on, is also at risk. The average person in the UK uses around 143 litres of it every day – that’s nearly half a ton, which is about the weight of a cow (fun fact). But with the country’s population growing by nearly a whopping 400,000 every year, there’s going to come a point where this simply isn’t sustainable.
So, what can you do? Well, it may not seem like much, but if we can all make a few small changes to the way we use water, we can collectively make a difference and ensure our water resources don’t disappear.
Here are 10 simple things you can do to reduce your water wastage and be a better human being.
1. Don’t be a drip
Caption: Don’t waste a drop and don’t keep the tap runningThink about it: when you’re brushing your teeth, do you really need to leave the tap running? The answer’s no; once you’ve wet your brush, you don’t need to run the tap again until you’re done.
Also, all the time you spend running the tap waiting for it to get cold is wasting litres – and all for a glass of water. A really easy and clever thing to do is to collect the water in a washing up bowl and then use it for your washing up later in the day, for watering your houseplants or even chucking down the loo instead of flushing.
Or even better, if you want a quick refreshing glass of water why not fill a jug in your fridge? That way, you’ll always have cold water whenever you fancy it.
2. Each cuppa can cost
Picture: How much water do you put in the kettle to make one cup of tea?Are you one of those people who fills the kettle right up to maximum every time you go to make a cup of tea? Don’t feel too bad – we all do it. But it’s another habit to think about changing, largely because it might save you some pennies on the electricity bill as well as saving water.
You only need to fill your kettle with the water needed for the number of people you’re making teas for – and if that’s just you, just boil a mug’s worth. You’ll have your cuppa much quicker this way, and you won’t be using anywhere near as much energy to heat a smaller amount of water. Double win!
3. Shorten your shower
Picture: Turn off the shower while applying productsThis is a well-known one, but it’s also one of the easiest. From letting the shower run until it gets warm, to standing in under the shower head for a solid 20 minutes absorbing all the warmth, we are all guilty of overdoing it in the shower – but it’s really simple to cut this habit.
If you need to wait for your shower to warm up, catch the cold water and put it to good use at another point during the day. Switch off the shower every time you apply your hair products and body washes and then back on long enough to rinse off. Just these steps alone could halve your water usage and cut your shower time significantly. You might even have more time to do other things with your new-found free time too, like actually doing something to your hair, or putting some laundry on.
4. Clean less, but clean clever
Picture: Never do half measures – always run a full loadSpeaking of laundry, being a responsible adult and cleaning is another area where you can reduce your water usage. It can be as simple as saving up your laundry so you’re only ever doing a full load; this uses less water and energy than doing two half loads.
Or, if you have a dishwasher, only ever put it on when it’s actually full – as tempting as it is to fire it up just to clean your favourite bowl so you don’t have to physically wash it up. Except don’t wash it up, because running a full dishwasher it more water efficient than physically cleaning everything in the sink. Who knew?
5. Make saving water your #1 (and #2) goal
Picture: Traditional flushes can use up to 13 litres of water per flushWhen you’re confronted with a dual-flush loo, how often do you actually use the reduced flush option for a number one? If you start doing this, you’ll only be using 4 litres of water, saving you two litres for every one of your household’s 5,000 annual flushes – that adds up to a lot. And if you don’t have a dual-flush loo, get one installed, because the old-style single flush ones waste 13 litres every time. Ouch.
Another alternative is to put a specially made water-absorbent plastic bag that expands in your cistern to fill the space and reduce how much water is used per flush. And, if you really want to go for it, don’t just flush one wee – if it’s yellow, let it mellow and save up to flush in one go! Guests might not be so impressed but the country will be grateful…
6. Get a (water) butt
Picture: Get your garden summer-ready by storing rain waterWe live on an island – and it may ALWAYS seem like it’s raining, but that’s actually not true. So, why not make the most of the rainfall we do have and get a water butt in your garden, so that when summer comes around, you have your own personal reservoir for looking after your garden? Water butts can save up to an enormous 5,000 litres a year. Plus, flowers much prefer lovely natural rainwater to tap water. Everybody’s happy.
8. Go veggie
Picture: You can also steam your vegetables to save waterBit of a random one, but rearing animals for meat and dairy consumes a hell of a lot of water. If we all reduce how much meat we eat – along with all the other reasons we should be eating less of it – our water footprints will be minimised significantly. And, y’know, the animals will be happy too.
10. Make sure your shave is cutting it
Picture: Save water when shaving by filling the sink with waterNo, we’re not suggesting you go hairy to save water – although if you want to, go for it. What we’re saying is that when you shave, have some water in the sink or a bowl rather than running the tap while you’re doing it. It’s a time-consuming activity wherever you’re doing it, and you could save as much as 6 litres just by thinking about what you actually need to use.
11. Fix those leaks
Picture: Get those leaks repaired to stop wasting waterDrippy taps, leaking loos and ancient radiators: the bugbears of our lives – particularly if you’re renting and it takes a millennia or two to get anyone to agree to fix anything.
But it’s worth persevering with your dodgy landlords and splashing that cash. You see, you might only really pay attention to your dripping tap when you’re in the room with it, but it continues to drip when you’re not there, and that equates to a lot of water lost over the course of a day, a week, or even a few months.
Get everything repaired – and if you can’t do it straight away, find a way of capturing the leaking water to put to other uses in the meantime.
12. Sometimes measurements do matter
Picture: Switching to a metre let’s you see exactly how much water you’re usingIf you’re not on a meter already, get one fitted. When you start to see bills based on what you actually use, rather than a flat quarterly rate, it will really make you think about all the little ways you’re using water.
It’s easy to get one. Just visit your utility supplier’s website – like Thames Water if you live in London – and register your interest in having one installed. It’s completely free to do too, so long as no pipework or tap modifications are required.