Though water conservation has always been a big topic as the percentage of fresh water left on the Earth dwindles each year, water is especially important across California now. We’ve experienced droughts in the past with news from local water centers stating that we’ll be allowed less water for a certain period of time, but this is the first time there has been a drought measured of this magnitude since when we first started measuring rainfall.
Since Jan. 17, when Gov. Jerry Brown declared the drought at an emergency level, all eyes have been on California’s drought problem, even President Obama’s. Many farmers have become upset with the little amount of water they’ve been rationed to grow their crops, and it’s come to the point that Obama has stepped in with $300 million in water relief projects. Many families talk to their kids about keeping the faucet off when it’s not in use while brushing teeth, and simple practices like that are all the more important now, but every family is needing to do a bit more during this extreme drought.
So here are some other ways families can use less water during the drought to keep in mind, and pass along. Read on to find your family’s newest practice, and comment on the article to share what you do to save water at home.
1. Keep the Cup: Whenever I go out to eat with my daughter, I take her kids cup from the restaurant home. If she doesn’t finish the water that’s in the cup that day or the next I use the water to fill the dog’s bowl or water plants. When her canteen needs a cleaning I pour any leftover water inside into an empty water bottle I use to water the plants.
2. Fill the Bucket: Place a small bucket in your sink to catch the used water from hand or veggie/fruit washing and use it to water your garden later. Some parents fill a bucket with water and only use that much water for their shower, or child’s bath.
3. Quicker Showers: Time yourself, and try to take your shower in under 6 minutes. If you need to shave your legs, do it at the sink so that your shower is quicker and you don’t have all that wasted water pouring into the drain as you do it.
4. Space Out Baths: Babies under the age of one don’t need to bathe more than once a week — unless there’s a blow out, they don’t smell like big kids, and their food messes and be fixed with a few baby wipes. Toddlers and preschoolers need to bathe a bit more often — every 2-3 days. Basically, as kids get older, it’s harder to space out baths, so just try to schedule bath time for the days they play a sport or go to a birthday party (when you know they’ll get messy) and skip a day when you can. Baths use up a lot more water than showers, so switch your child to a shower as soon as they’re ready, or fill just a smaller tub or sink for them to bathe in for as long as possible.
5. Catch Cold Water: If it takes a while for your water to heat up, some moms recommend placing a bucket under the sink, or in the shower to catch the cold water that comes out before the warm water you need comes in. This bucket of water (if you use a food safe bucket) can be used to wash veggies, boil water, hydrate pets, or water the lawn.
6. Maintain Healthy Faucet Habits: Keep faucets off when you’re not actively using the water, don’t let it run! The most common example of this is turning the water off while you brush your teeth at the sink, then turning it on only when you need to rinse your brush again. Doing this really has to be learned to the point that it becomes habit/routine.
7. Use Face Wipes: Skip washing your face at the sink before bed, and try using a biodegradable face wipe instead. The wipe doubles as face wash and a wash cloth at once, and removes makeup.
8. Boil and Repeat: Reuse your boiled water, either to boil something else, or in a smoothie later.
9. Use Dry Shampoo: I haven’t used this myself, but a lot of people use dry shampoo if they don’t wash their hair every day. I suggest buying safe dry shampoo made for pets and using that between major pet baths to keep your pet smelling and looking good without as much water (or hassle).
10. Save Your Tea: If you brew some tea but don’t drink it all, save it for the plants. Apparently, some plants thrive when watered with tea (it does have water in it, I guess).
11. Fix Leaks: A leaky faucet (even a drop) is using more water than you think. Save water, and money on your bills by fixing it.
12. Fill the Washer: Be sure your washer is full (but not over capacity) before running a load.
13. Fill the Dish Washer: Contrary to popular belief, washing dishes in a full and efficient dish washer actually uses less water (and sterilizes better) than quickly washing dishes by hand.
14. Research: There are a lot of great websites with more tips about how to conserve. Homewaterworks has a calculator that figures out how much water you use in your home, and how you can use less, here. A site called Water Use It Wisely shares over 100 ways to conserve, including ways to get your kids’ school or your work involved in making better water choices.