By: Allison Xu
What a relief! The eyesores of bare soil surrounded by patches of yellow, wilting grass can now be fixed. California’s recent drought (2011-April 2017) has ended and household restrictions have been lifted. Our immediate reaction is that we can return to our normal ways of life, when water usage was not a constant weight on the back of our minds. But what if we could embrace a more sustainable, water-efficient lifestyle?
Although California has received sufficient rainfall, families cannot simply use more water. Households should maintain a lifestyle of water conservation not just for the sake of saving water. When we use water, we are using other valuable resources as well, including energy. Power plants produce energy, which is needed for the treatment and purification of water. Meanwhile, power plants also release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Thus, efforts for water conservation are crucial for both the present and the future.
Nonetheless, being conscious about our water usage can often be difficult and feel distant. After we turn on the faucet, water flows down the drain and out of sight. Our only measure of how much water we actually use is through the numbers on our water bills: we do not know the full magnitude of our actions. This often causes us to choose the less water-efficient option. We may value greener lawns or want to stay in the shower for a few extra minutes, but deeper impacts lay behind our actions.
Leaving the faucet running while brushing teeth will waste 2 gallons every minute. Staying an extra 4 minutes in the shower will waste 10 gallons.
However, if we start small and conserve water bit by bit, the statistics back themselves up. For every 4 minutes fewer in the shower, up to 10 gallons can be saved. Every effort to save water counts, and integrating these into your lifestyle can be simple and fun.
There are many resources with tips on how to get involved with saving water, so there is no need to repeat them all here. Still, it is important to keep in mind how much water you are using efficiently and how much you are wasting, such as how long you stay in the shower. Though 5-minute showers are ideal, every minute spared in the shower counts. Keeping a shower timer nearby can serve as a fun reminder to save water. The charts here show how much water we use in household appliances and in the shower. We often underestimate how much water we waste, but we can still become more aware about our water use. Anyone can easily make an effort to save water one drop at a time.