We Floridians can learn a lot from our friends in western states like California. They are facing critical water shortages, and are taking creative strides to deal with them. Learning some of their methods-- particularly how to re-use water inside your home-- can help us to form responsible routines and help to prevent shortages. By implementing the simple tips below, you and your family can conserve water, save money and help protect this valuable resource.
In the bathroom
- Install low flow toilets, faucets, showerheads and water flow restrictors.
- Take showers instead of baths. Tub baths use 10 to 25 more gallons of water than the average shower.
- Take shorter showers. If possible, turn the water off while you are shampooing or applying soap. Turn it back on only for rinsing. Long hot showers waste five to ten gallons of water every unneeded minute.
- Turn the water off while washing, brushing teeth, or shaving. Turn it back on only for your final rinse. To keep your blade clean during shaving, fill the sink with a small amount of water and use it for dipping the razor.
- Your toilet can probably flush just as efficiently with less water than it now uses. To reduce water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles in a plastic bottle to weigh it down. Fill with water and put in your toilet tank, away from the operating mechanism. The bottle will displace several gallons of water a day.
- Reduce excessive toilet flushing. Do not use the toilet as a wastebasket. Facial tissues and insects should not be disposed of in the toilet.
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the water run until it is cool every time you want a glass.
- Do not run the water while washing fruits and vegetables. Drop them in a small tub of water instead. Peel first to minimize the amount of washing needed.
- Boil only the amount of water you need, and always cover the pot. A lot of water is wasted through evaporation and when we throw out the used water. Plain water boiled in a clean, covered teapot can be cooled and re-boiled as long as it doesn’t sit too long. Do not throw it out right away.
- When cooking pastas or vegetables, drain the water into another pot instead of the sink. Let the water cool after use. Use this water for potted plants or in the garden.
- Do not throw out leftover coffee, tea and hot chocolates until the end of the day. Store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Re-heat and stir well for that evening cup without the water waste. If it makes sense for your family, consider a single cup coffee maker to reduce the amount of coffee and tea wasted. Be sure to use a refillable permanent filter, and in all cases use those coffee grounds as soil enricher. An alternative is to use pre-packaged coffee in biodegradable, compostable or recyclable packaging. Be sure to set the timer for the machine to automatically shut off when you don’t need it.
- Scrape food off dishes instead of rinsing them.
- Fill your dishwasher to maximum capacity before running it. Every load in the dishwasher uses at least 25 gallons of water.
- When hand washing the dishes, wash like they did long ago. Fill a tub with water, put in some soap, and drop in the dishes for a good pre-soak. Fill another tub with clean water for rinsing and a bit of scrubbing, and transfer the dishes. Empty the first tub and re-fill it with clean water for your final rinse. OR, Put your soapy dishes on a dish rack in your sink, and give them a light final rinse with your sprayer hose.
- If you have water left in drinking glasses or water bottles, don't just pour it down the drain. Put it in the fridge for later use, or use it for dishwashing, handwashing, in plants, or pour it into your pet's bowl.
In the laundry room
- Wash only full loads of laundry. The average load of laundry uses 35 gallons of water. That’s a lot of water for just a few items.
- Set clothes washer to the appropriate water level for the amount of clothes being washed. Use “speed wash” and “rinse only” when possible.
- Don't wash as often. Towels can be used safely three times after showers and baths. So hang them to dry after use instead of washing each time.
- If you shower or bathe before bed, then you can re-wear your pajamas a few times as well.
- Flip tablecloths over and use the other side the next day, as a way of cutting that type of laundry in half.
When cleaning house
- Take your shoes off when you enter your house. Your floors will stay cleaner longer and you won't need to mop as often.
- Fill two buckets with water, one for clean and one for squeezing out soapy sponges and rags. Use these instead of running water continuously in the sinks or tubs of each room.
- Don't throw out the soapy water. You can pour it into your toilets to use for flushing. If you are using a non-toxic, bio-friendly cleaner, your dirty water can be used to water grass or plants. Check labels carefully.