Approximately 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. That’s a lot. So when the conservationists, environmentalists and eco-warriors start spouting on about how we need to use water more sustainably because it’s going to run out, it’s no wonder Joe Public doesn’t take it seriously.
But of that 71 percent only a mere 3 per cent is freshwater and most of that is frozen within glaciers. All of a sudden things aren’t looking so rosy are they? Mix in climate change, unequal distribution across the world, over extraction and the massive problem of our growing population and suddenly those eco-warriors aren’t sounding so crazy!
It’s not all doom and gloom however, and whilst yes we should be taking the matter of conserving our most precious of natural resources seriously, we as individuals can at least play a part in doing something about it.
Check out the ways in which we can all start to use water more sustainably:
Water Storage Tanks
Water storage tanks, such as those supplied by Complete Pump Supplies, are a great way to store water within the home. There are lots of different types out there but most work by heating up the water and supplying in demand as and when it is needed. One way to help reduce not only the amount of water that is used, but also the amount of energy used (which also affects water use) is to ensure the tank is properly insulated. Some tanks may come with their own insulation, but if not you can fit them with an insulated jacket to prevent heat loss.
If you live in the UK you’ll be no stranger to rain. It feels as if it rains pretty much all the time and that rain is water that we could be using. Rainwater tanks can be installed either in your garden, close to the house, or ideally on the roof of your house (if you have a flat roof of course!). Rainwater harvesting, as it is known, is essentially collecting rainwater in a tank and then pumping it out into the house for use. If the water is to be consumed it will also need to go through a purification process, or you could just have it hooked up to your non-drinking taps, for example the bath or plumbed into the dishwasher or washing machine.
Regularly watering the garden isn’t really something we need to think about too much here in the UK as we’re so used to rain. However, in the height of summer (if you can call it that!) we can certainly make up for it and many of us overindulge on the sprinklers and hoses. This usually results in a hosepipe ban and for good reason too. There are many ways we can cut back on this to be more sustainable with our water. For example paddling pools that have been filled, played in and then become surplus to requirement needn’t be emptied down the drain or poured onto the lawn all in one tidal wave go. Instead, collect as much water as you can into buckets or watering cans and leave them to use for watering your plants and lawn when it really needs it.
You might also want to think about buying and installing a drip feeding system for your plants in pots, as this uses far less water and gives the plant the exact amount they need, rather than a deluge all at once. These systems are easy to use and cheap to buy and are also very handy for making sure your plants get watered when you’re away on holiday.
An easy way to save water is to fit a water butt onto your guttering so that you can collect rainwater and then siphon it off when your garden needs watering. Just make sure to keep an eye on how full the tank is getting, because if there has been a lot of rain it may fill very quickly and will pour from the top unless it is regularly used.
Water Saving Devices
Our homes are filled with fixtures and appliances that use water on a daily basis: washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, showers, baths. And while we could arguably live without a dishwasher and take a shower instead of a bath to help save water, there is another solution which means we won’t have to give up our little luxuries.
All dishwashers and washing machines will have an efficiency rating and this determines how much energy and water the appliance uses. It is usually given a star rating, so pretty easy to understand. If you’re buying a new one, always check the efficiency rating and make sure you go for the most efficient model that you can afford. Not only will you be helping the environment but you’ll also be saving money on your utility bills too.
In terms of toilets, you can of course choose to only flush when you’ve done a *cough* number two, but that’s understandably not for everyone! You can get bags that easily fit into the cistern that reduce the amount of water used per flush or if you are having a new toilet installed opt for an Ultra-low flush (ULF) toilets, which essentially does the same thing. Likewise, showers can be fitted with low-flow showerheads that reduce the flow of water, although this may not work so well if you live in an area with low water pressure.
Grey Water Recycling
Sounds gross I know, but using ‘grey’ recycled water isn’t all that bad. You wouldn’t want to drink previously used water obviously, but there’s nothing wrong in using it for some of the other things that require water. For example, what about collecting bath water and using it to water the garden or pouring it down the toilet (after it’s been used) instead of flushing it? And of course the ultimate in grey water recycling is to share bath water, which I’ve been doing with my kids since before I can remember. I just choose not to tell them I’ve done this as all hell would break loose, so cleverly squirt in a different bubble bath and top it up with some hot water to give the illusion of a freshly run bath – all about being smart, right!?! 😉
The Simple Things
As well as all of the above, there are also lots and lots of simply practices we can put into place within our daily habits that will help us to use water more sustainably.
- Turning off the tap in between brushing our teeth or washing our hands.
- Checking for leaking pipes or dripping taps.
- Only using the washing machine and dishwasher when they have full loads.
- When making a hot drink only fill the kettle with the amount of water you estimate you will actually need.
- Have a shower instead of a bath.
We can all do our bit to help save water, so let’s start making changes today by implementing some or all of the ideas above and help preserve this vital natural resource.