This Is A Turn Off
We use more water than we need. Here's how to reduce your water footprint to fewer than 75 gallons per day. Read the introduction below or jump straight to sections on using less water in the bathroom, outdoors, and in the kitchen.
According to UNICEF, humans need about five gallons of clean water a day to survive.
In America, we can easily use 400 gallons per household, per day. That's two to three times more water as other developed nations. With landscape irrigation estimated at more than 7 billion gallons per day, the per capita numbers get even crazier. Why? Much of our waste stems from unsustainable planning and policies and a deep sense of entitlement: we want what we want when and where we want it. We grow crops and build cities on former deserts that require irrigation, which means diverting water from streams and rivers. And that much ballyhooed corn-based ethanol requires approximately 1,700 gallons of water for every gallon of fuel produced. Which means that even our great green gas isn't water efficient.
But it's not just big business and government that are to blame. We live in bigger houses than Europeans, drive bigger cars, have more clothes that need frequent washing in water-guzzling machines, and we pitch too many things into the trash instead of fixing them. All of this uses lots of water.
So while the public looks optimistically to the current administration for cues, it's a little busy, and we can't hire a lobbyist to rewrite U.S. water policy. What we can do is make some important choices. All it takes is a little bit of thought.
A few words about the number: We do not expect very many of you to convert your toilet into a compost bin with a seat on it, nor will we ask you to forgo your daily shower. However, the average American uses more than 151 gallons of water per day. And there are a lot of Americans. In the spirit of a slightly more equitable use of resources, we're asking you to turn off the tap.
We realize that the idea of halving your water use might deter too many of you. If you want to go crazy, we applaud you (and please let us know how it goes). If you want to start with baby steps, see what you can do about getting it down to 75. Once you realize how easy that can be, add on some other steps.
To help guide the transition, here are some explanations of where you're unknowingly hogging water, home hacks you can perform, and tips that might force you to alter your daily rituals, but won't have you living like a woodsman. Good luck!
Conventional Gallons, By Use*
Toilet: 3.5 to 6 gallons per flush for a conventional toilet
Shower: 2.5 to 4 gallons per minute for a conventional shower head
Bath: Up to 60 gallons per bath based on standard tub size, full
Dishwasher: 4 gallons per load if it is Energy Star rated, 6 gallons without
Running faucet: 2 to 7 gallons per minute for a conventional faucet
Watering your lawn: 5 to 10 gallons per minute for a running hose
*Water flow depends on your water pressure, obviously. These numbers reflect conventional water use and conventional tub and sink sizes, on average, without aerators, low-flow attachments, etc.
Take action! Read more from the Good Guide to Reducing Your Water Use:
|Americans vs. Europeans The average per-capita water use in the United States is 151 gallons per person per day-more than any other country in the world. The French, for example, get by on 71 apiece. The British, a paltry 37.|
Dear Nine-Year-Old Me The transition is going to be difficult for you, but whenever you feel a little lonely and left out, take comfort in the knowledge that you are honing one of your greatest superpowers.
What to Do When Your Country is Drowning The wild and desperate ways island nations are fighting the effects of climate change
The Rise of Drone Pizza Delivery Why the skies will soon be filled with flying, snack-bearing robots
How Helsinki Became a Public Transporation Paradise One European city plans to make car ownership obsolete within a decade.
Follow the Crowd NanoCrafter and the rise of group intelligence Why online gaming may just be the future of science
The Empathy Mirror Neurofeedback enables us to better see ourselves in the other. Recent discoveries in neurofeedback can teach you to be less of a dick.
Robots On Ice Probe the Arctic Why a team of research robots is investigating disappearing sea ice, and why you should care
Don’t Turn Away Colin Finlay photographs the consequences of climate change. You will never see more beautiful photos of the deteriorating state of our planet than the ones in this photo feature.
Puppy Love How dogecoin spawned an improbable community of giving What a canine-emblazoned cryptocurrency can teach about philanthropy
Positive In, Positive Out: How a USC Alumna is Coping with Lymphoma Coast Guard Reserves member Cassie Sulfridge, 28, had just graduated from MSW@USC, the Southern California university’s web-based Master of Social Work program, and was working two jobs when her life was turned upside down.
Politics by Yummier Means An Israeli-Palestinian popup restaurant and the precarious art of gastric diplomacy Two chefs win over hearts, minds, and stomachs in Jerusalem.
Rag Time Seven seriously f’d up t-shirts that somehow made their way onto shelves Brazil’s “lookin’ to score” tee is, unfortunately, part of a recent tradition of aberrant apparel.