1. Take a five minute shower. Set a timer and get out when it rings. You can click here to watch yours truly (yep, that’s me in a towel) talking on French TV about the importance of water conservation.
2. Skip the shower. Then you can go on European TV in a towel too. Americans bathe too often and for too long. It’s better for your skin and the planet if you don’t take a shower every day. More in this New York Times article “The Great Unwashed.”
3. Don’t bathe your kids. Children don’t need baths every day. Sponge off the places that are dirty and have them bathe once or twice a week instead of daily. Spot clean infants under the chin where the milk tends to curdle and around the privates and you can get away with bathing them only once every two weeks, if that often.
4. Put a bucket in the shower to catch the water that’s usually wasted as you wait for it to heat up. Use this gray water to flush the toilet.
5. Water the house plants with rinse water. House plants love beer and milk. When you rinse out the milk container (the glass one that you will bring back to the store or the carton that you will save for your friend Sue because you can’t recycle it in Ashland but you can in Portland), water the plants with this water instead of throwing it away.
6. Fix the leaks. A leaky faucet or a running toilet can skyrocket your water bills and your water consumption. A huge amount of water waste comes from unfixed leaks. Check outdoor faucets as well.
7. Use a cup with some water in it when you brush your teeth. If you have to use the faucet, don’t let the water run.
8. Don’t wash your clothes after just wearing them once. Even with a super efficient washing machine, washing clothes wastes water. Besides, you’re just going to stink up your exercise clothes, why bother washing them?
9. If it’s yellow let it mellow. Close the toilet cover after use and only flush down the brown (with the water from the shower bucket, see #4). Every time you flush the toilet you use about 3.5 gallons of water. Use the money you save to go to the movies.
10. Run the dishwasher or the washing machine only when they’re full. Our friend Bruce says you can always squeeze in one more dish.
11. When you need new appliances, upgrade to energy and water efficient models, low-flow shower heads, and a low-flow or composting toilet. Low-flow shower heads are often available for free from your town or city, and cities will also give you a healthy rebate check if you buy an energy-efficient appliance or low-flow toilet.
12. Compost kitchen waste. It takes a lot of water to grind kitchen waste in the disposal, and there’s no reason to do it. Start a compost heap or an indoor worm bin. Here’s Attainable Sustainable’s primer on lazy person composting.
13. Use the same glass all day. Whether you’re drinking water, coffee, or juice. That way you don’t have to wash it, just refill.
14. Don’t run the water to defrost food. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before.
15. Use a rubber spatula to scrape food into the compost bin (see #12) before putting in the dishwasher. Do this for every plate at every meal and you’ll save hundreds of gallons!
What are your best tips for saving water?