Minimizing Water Waste in the New Year: 4 Simple Tips

Shortage of clean water is a problem affecting populations the world over, and yet it’s something we could all play a role in improving. These tips are something we can all keep in mind to do our part in the goal of minimizing water waste.

Water is one of the most precious resources on Earth. While drought-prone and desert countries know how to be careful with their water supplies, many countries where water is abundant waste millions of gallons of water each year.

If you’re looking for a way to become more sustainable in the new year, consider reducing your water use. Here are four ways you can minimize water waste on a daily basis.

By Jane Marsh

Minimizing Water Waste: Hoover damn looking low
Photo by Katie Montgomery on Unsplash

1. Retrofit Your Toilet

According to a study done by the Water Research Foundation, toilets account for 24% of total water use in most American households. This is the highest percentage of water assigned to any one item, and it’s not a fixture many people will want to stop using.

Thankfully, there are several ways you can easily reduce the amount of water your toilet uses. First, you can install a permanently water-filled bag in the tank of your toilet. This displaces some of the water needed to refill the tank.

Another way you can significantly reduce your toilet’s water use is to check for leaks. Depending on your toilet model, you could also install a fill cycle diverter. Some individuals also choose to replace their toilet altogether with a low-flow toilet designed to save water.

2. Reduce Shower Water

The second highest water use in typical American households comes from showering, at around 20% of total water use. All showerheads made in the U.S. must produce no more than 2.5 gallons per minute. However, in 10 minutes, that can be 20-25 gallons for one shower!

There are two approaches you can take to reduce water use while showering. First, you can take fewer and shorter showers. Fewer baths can also help you save water – they can take up to 50 gallons, depending on the size of your bath.

However, shorter showers are hard to commit to because so many people use their showers to relax at the end of the day. Another option is to install low-flow showerheads and use a bucket to catch the initial cold water for reuse as landscape water.

3. Turn Off Faucets

According to the Water Research Survey, the third-highest water use comes from the faucet. Most American homes have faucets in their kitchen and multiple bathrooms, and people use this water for grooming and cleaning tasks like brushing teeth and washing dishes.

Most faucets use one to three gallons of water a minute, and it’s hard to tell how much water you’re using because you don’t see it all at once. The next time you wash the dishes, try plugging the bottom of the sink to see how fast it fills up.

Fortunately, saving water from your faucet is easy. You can install a low-flow faucet or aerator to reduce the amount of water coming out per minute and start turning the faucet off anytime you’re not immediately using it.

Demand for water continues to grow with urbanization and population growth. However, changing your habits can help you reduce water use. You can also use fewer dishes and fill a basin with water for washing instead of running the tap.

Birds on watered sugarcane field
Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash

4. Make Lifestyle Changes

In addition to household water use, many products that Americans buy require thousands of gallons of water to create. By pursuing a more minimal and sustainable lifestyle, you can save even more water this year.

One industry that takes a lot of water is agriculture. Foods like wheat, corn, and sugarcane take a lot of water to grow. For example, one bag of sugar can take up to 88 gallons of water to produce. Making a commitment to get better nutrition this year can also help you reduce your personal water use.

Textiles also require a lot of water to produce, so choosing to buy fewer and longer-lasting garments can positively impact water use. Materials for garments take about 93 billion cubic meters of water annually. Unfortunately, these materials are often produced in already water-poor countries like China, India, and Pakistan.

Resolve to Save Water

Concretely measuring your water use can be challenging, so try using your water bill as motivation to track your progress each month. Make it a goal to see how much you can reduce your bill each month as you find ways to save more water.

Consider implementing one or all of these ideas to save water and live more sustainably this year. Every small step matters – over time, your decisions will build on each other to create meaningful change.