Why Conserve Water and How?
They say the next global conflict could result from water related issues – scarcity or flooding could both lead to catastrophic outcomes.
Particularly, in places like India which is under ‘water stress’ already according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). Our neighbour China is only marginally better and is classed is ‘water vulnerable’ as per the WRI. Together, these two countries account for two thirds of the global population. With growing industrialization and population, it is predicted the water situation essentially in the form of water shortages will get worse in the coming years.
Our water usage is both direct and indirect (invisible to the user). To effectively save water one must focus on both direct and indirect usage of water.
Reducing Direct Water Usage
Here are some tips
- Reduce the flow of water in your taps and showers by keeping the main inlet water valve only partially open. In addition, just be conscious of the water flow you need and operate taps accordingly.
- Take shorter showers, bucket showers and avoid bath tubs
- Soak the dishes, pots and pans in water and then apply soap. Rinse the dishes by putting all of them in a large pot under running water. This way they get rinsed together.
- Turn off the tap while brushing, soaping yourself or soaping dishes.
- Do not flush after peeing.
- Mulch around plants and trees
- Do not plant decorative plants that require watering during the summer. Watering lawns and shrubs that are just pleasing to the eyes and do not serve any other purpose is criminal in regions like India. Grow plant and tree species from the local region that can survive without water during the dry season. They can be equally beautiful.
- If you are compelled to water your plants, water after sunset to avoid evaporation losses.
- Avoid private pools and visit a public pool to cool off to avail the added benefit of socialising.
- Invest in rain-water harvesting systems to either capturing the water in storage tanks for groundwater recharging.
- Look into setting up a local waste water treatment plant and use gray water for flushing and other secondary uses. Note that the quality of waste water is depends both on the system and what is contained in the waste water. Strong detergents, cleaning agents and other strong chemicals are more resource intensive to clean. One can use the filtered water for gardening if the quality of the water is reasonable.
Reducing Indirect Water Usage
Water is embodied in most products and services we consume. Being cognizant of the water footprint of products you consume and making appropriate choices will go a long way in reducing your footprint.
Here are some facts to help you make good choices.
Animal based diet is water intensive. Cutting down on meat and dairy is helpful. According to the National Geographic, ‘on average, a vegan, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 2,271 litres of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet’
- A portion of beef takes 1,295 litres of water
- A portion of chicken takes 337 litres of water
- A cup of milk takes 208 liters of water
- A cup of coffee also takes 208 litres of water most of which goes into growing coffee beans
Nearly 60% of electricity in India comes from coal fired power plants. It takes around 1.7 litres of water to produce 1 Kw h.
In other words, it takes 1.7 litres of water to run an efficient AC of 1000 watts per hour which is around 480 litres per month. Note that it does not include the embodied water that goes into making the air-conditioner in the first place.
Use less electricity and electrical appliances if you want to save water.
It takes 1 litre of water to produce 1 litre of petrol. Flying is the most water intensive mode of transport. It takes a whopping 34,000 litres of water for a 1,000 km for return air journey.
To save water, walk, cycle and use public transport wherever possible and avoid air travel at all costs.
It takes 2,700 litres of water just to produce one humble T shirt. Next time you are tempted to buy an item of clothing, just remember this figure.
It takes 333 litres of water to make one lap top. So think hard next time when you are tempted to buy a gadget.
According to the National Geographic, one of the best ways to conserve water is to buy recycled goods, and to recycle your stuff when you’re done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need.
The takeaway from all this is to consume consciously and only what you need to conserve the precious resource of water.
For some more information on how to conserve water at home, refer to this blog by Andrea Davis