Southern California received some rain this past El Nino season, but only some. The region is still mired in drought. As the nation follows the water crisis affecting Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties, it’s a reminder to all of us to curb our water consumption. There are several ways to save water without scrapping showers from your daily routine or risking constant dehydration.
1. Harvest shower water
Before you turn the shower on in the morning, place a bucket under the faucet. Catch cool water in the bucket while your shower water is heating up. Use water collected in the bucket to mop floors, clean your bike, or water plants in your apartment.
2. Collect excess water used in cooking
Water left in a pot after boiling vegetables can be similarly harvested. This water, which should technically be potable, can also be used to make vegetable stock. Simply store the water in the fridge and reuse it the next time you boil your vegetables. Just be sure to check on it every now and then to make sure it’s not going bad.
3. Use leftover drinking water to water your plants
When tidying up at the end of the night before bed or after company, don’t dump water left in glasses throughout the day. Pour the leftover water into a watering can to water the plants the next day.
4. Time your showers
Tracking the time you spend in the shower and constantly working to shorten your shower times can feel something like a game to some people. If this doesn’t sound like your type of fun, select your favorite songs and try to shower before they can play all the way through. Start with songs in the four-minute range, and switch to three-minute songs when you’re ready. Remember that the water doesn’t have to run the entire time you’re showering. You can save even more water by closing the tap to lather yourself in soap and shampoo, turning the water back on to rinse off.
5. Store a jug of water in your fridge
If you like your water cool, keep a full jug or pitcher of water in your fridge at all times. This way, you don’t have to run the tap until the water gets cool every time you pour yourself a glass. If you do run the tap until it cools down, harvest and reuse the water that’s not cool enough for you to drink.
6. Only pre-wash filthy dishes
Most modern dishwashers do not require pre-washing. Save water (and time, and energy!) by only soaking or pre-washing dishes that could really use a pre-wash. Dishwashing detergent is actually more effective when dishes have some food particles stuck to them anyway.
7. Wash full loads only
Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have full loads of dishes or laundry. You’ll save water and optimize your appliances’ energy efficiency.
8. Keep garbage disposal use to a minimum
Garbage disposals are convenient, but they use water unnecessarily. Scrape food scraps into your pet’s dish, a compost bin, or the garbage, and run your garbage disposal as infrequently as possible.
9. Check for leaks
Plumbing leaks are a dime-a-dozen problem, and many of them go undetected. You can check for a toilet leak by squeezing a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the coloring crops up in the toilet bowl before you flush, you’ve got a leak. Keep an eye out for under-sink leaks as well, and immediately report leaks you find to management.
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