The Eco-Life: Conserving Water and Cutting Energy Costs

Who doesn’t love a long, relaxing shower after a stressful day of school, work and household chores? Well, if you’re a California resident, you’re going to have to find another way to unwind. The Golden State has been in a record-breaking drought for the last four years, putting pressure on all Californians to scale back on their water use. That doesn’t mean you have to go without showering for days, but there are ways you can be more eco-friendly and cut energy costs even if you’re not in the middle of a drought. You’d be surprised how easy it is to save water, from your household cleaning to your hygiene routine. Trust us: You can do it, and you should — for yourself, your roommates, and the planet!

Start With the Basics

You use water every day for a million things, so where do you start to cut back? Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation in California and a passionate environmentalist, says the most basic tip is simply to turn it off when you’re not actually using it. You can save around two gallons of water a minute by doing so — and that’s just for the smaller tasks.

“Turn off the tap while you shave, brush your teeth or wash dishes,” he recommends. “Take a shorter shower, and fix any leaky pipes to save hundreds of gallons of water every month going to wastewater treatment plants and being discharged to the ocean.”

If you’re still wondering how big your impact can really be, take a look at our breakdown of exactly where you can conserve water and how much you can save.

Personal Hygiene:

  1. Baths: Take showers; bathtubs take about 70 gallons of water to fill.
  2. Shaving: Plug a bit of water in the sink to rinse razors and save hundreds of gallons a month.
  3. Leaks: Fix those leaks to save an average 10 gallons a day.
  4. Showers: You’re already saving water by showering (go you!). Challenge yourself further to spend the shortest amount of time in there (under five minutes). You can also get a low-flow showerhead and save another 12.5 gallons.
  5. Toilets: Throw trash away in the bin; don’t flush it. Toilets flush an average of 3.5 gallons every time.

    Household Tasks:

    1. Laundry: Adjust your washer settings according to the load size, and if you’re in the market, get a front-loading machine to save 20 gallons per load vs. top-loading machines
    2. Dishes: Here’s a great excuse to swear off handwashing dishes; dishwashers are more efficient with water (and better for communal cleanup with roommates).
    3. Garbage Disposal: Compost your scraps if you can to save a few gallons each time you would have used the disposal.
    4. Cooking and Drinking: Thaw food in the fridge instead of the sink, and use a water pitcher rather than using the tap to fill up your water glass.
    5. Lawn and Garden

      And finally, if you’re lucky enough to have a yard, Nelsen recommends letting nature help out.

      “Reuse your rainwater as an irrigation source for your plants or garden,” he says. “Use gutters and downspouts to direct rainwater into your garden instead of letting it flow into the street.”

      Almost 60 percent of water usage goes into the lawn for those that have them. As an individual, you can make a difference, but as an entire team, you can make a real impact. Find more information on Save Our Water’s interactive website, and continue to help California conserve in the midst of the drought.