Imagine being told you can use one bathtub of water and only flush the toilet six times a day (approximately 55 gallons of water), while people in another county can go on using the average 80 – 100 gallons of water per day. That’s exactly what community members in exceptional drought areas in California are being restricted to in an effort to conserve water.
The immediate conversation surrounding drought and climate change are more than evident in areas like the Western United States where drought is occurring earlier and earlier each year. Most people aren’t aware that drought has affected more people worldwide than any other natural hazard. A quiet takeover, drought is caused by extremely dry conditions in certain geographic areas and is one of the most serious consequences of climate change.
And while drought is natural and unpredictable, it’s the chronic overuse of water that puts us in a position of unpreparedness when drought arises. Crops die, soil erodes, and forest fires swell. Long-term drought impacts food production making it impossible for farmers to water their crops. Chronic drought effects can include major shortages and the quality of drinking water and diseases like the West Nile Virus that breed in stagnant water.
In addition to overconsumption, wind, evaporation, and water runoff accounts for 50 percent of the water wasted for irrigation methods for agriculture according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
There’s no drought in my state, so why should I be concerned about conserving water?
Life is a series of small connections. Consider when water supply suffers, food prices rise and more people have the chance of experiencing food insecurity.
Gardyn is on a mission to provide easy access to healthy food and a more harmonious lifestyle for us and the planet. Systems need to change and we can make small shifts as individuals to help save water. We hope this list of tips to conserve water will help you reimagine the way you see and savor the quality, sustainability, and natural resources in your everyday life.
#1 - Get a baseline and take inventory of how you use water.
The average American uses 80 – 100 gallons of water a day, and surprisingly, the areas that extract the most water are flushing toilets and taking showers. To determine your personal impact, follow your activities throughout the day to see exactly how much you’re consuming and where you can stop subconsciously wasting water when it’s not necessary.
How you can take action: Science Over Everything has a handy worksheet to help you address water habits in your home so you can identify where water is being used the most, and where you can trim unnecessary overuse of resources.
#2 - Check your faucets.
Did you know that a single leaky faucet wastes more than 100 gallons of water every year? Those small insignificant drips might not seem like a threat, but add up to quite a waste of water.
The United States Geological Survey has a handy Drip Calculator that flushes out an estimate of how much water a leaky faucet is actually wasting over time.
How you can take action: There’s often a variety of rebates offered to consumers who install water-efficient appliances, fixtures, and landscaping materials, so do your research before buying to get the best kickback and help the planet.
#3 - Be smart about how you water your lawn and garden.
According to the EPA, “a household with an automatic landscape irrigation system that isn’t properly maintained and operated can waste up to 25,000 gallons of water annually.”
Start your outdoor water conservation strategy by using native drought-tolerant plants and smarter watering practices.
Support animal habitats and promote biodiversity by using native plants for landscaping projects instead of trying to force a variety to thrive in conditions they were not meant to live in. The Audubon Society has a Native Plant Database so you can explore the best plants for your specific area, and attract some feather friends along the way.
When selecting drought-tolerant plants (varieties that survive in dry conditions and still thrive), do a little research to discover what grows best in your designated zone. The U.S.D.A has a Plant Hardiness Zone map to determine which plants will grow best in your backyard.
How you can take action: Once you’ve determined a beautiful layout of blooms and foliage, use a smart irrigation system to avoid overwatering. WaterSense is similar to a home thermostat, instead, it reads local weather conditions to determine the most efficient way to water your plants. In fact, the average household can save up to 9,000 gallons of water a year by replacing timer sprinkling systems with EPA partnered WaterSense models.
#4 - Honestly follow restrictions.
Local water restrictions are in place for a reason, not to sabotage your summer landscaping. By implementing smart watering habits from the start, you’re less likely to be affected by last-minute ordinances.
#5 - Take advantage of the rain.
Stormwater capture via rain barrels is a cost effective and smart way to saturate plants and lawns without taking from the main water supply. Simply let Mother Nature do her thing and harvest rainwater. If you live in Colorado and Utah, however, check with local guidelines as to how many rain barrels you’re allowed to have on your property.
How you can take action: Bob Villa rounds up this list of best rain barrels (that are also stylish to boot).
#6 - Consider “green infrastructure”.
There are other methods of water management, including vegetated rooftops, tree plantings, rain gardens, and permeable pavement that can capture, filter, and reduce stormwater and increase water supply.
These creative water management strategies stop flooding and reduce pollution runoff into rivers, lakes, and oceans. This helps collect and use valuable resources where the rain falls instead of depending on irrigation.
How you can make a difference: Guiding rainwater in your own yard by way of a rain garden can also help with flooded basements and overactive sump pumps. Gardener’s Supply Company has a detailed guide to creating a rain garden, once again, letting you make a positive impact on the quality of your community’s own water supply.
#7 - Grow your own food - indoors.
Agriculture consumes 70 percent of the available freshwater on earth. But we don’t have to sacrifice valuable resources in order to eat healthy. Designed for a sustainable future, growing indoors with Gardyn gives you a hefty yield of food – 30 plants grown in 2 square feet with gardyn = same amount of produce as a 1,300 square foot outdoor vegetable garden.
The resources used in a Gardyn recirculates the water in a closed-loop, using 95% less than traditional methods, giving the planet more time to replenish resources.
Current Gardyners have grown 200,000 lbs. of non-GMO, organic produce in their own homes. That means we’ve done some great things together to reduce food waste, pesticides poured in the environment and single-use plastic packaging. We’ve also grown more nutritious (and delicious) food for several thousands of our families.
Together, the Gardyner community has:
- Prevented 200,000 lbs. of CO2 from being released
- Saved 2.4 million gallons of water
- Prevented 30,000 gallons of pesticides from being used
Good tech grows food. Great tech changes the quality of what you eat and how you live.
How you can make a difference: Join the Gardyn community and get growing.
#8 - Reach out to your city manager and ask how they’re helping.
A little outreach can go a long way, so why not inquire how local officials are addressing water consumption and conservation in your town? Many cities are working to prepare for drought, in fact, the NRDC reports in a recent analysis,
“…if a city could capture all the rain that falls each year, that bounty would meet 21 percent to 75 percent of its annual water needs. Even capturing a portion for reuse could make a huge difference.”
How teachers can make a difference: Teachers can use this opportunity to empower students to reach out to local governments and ask them how they’re helping. The National Education Association has an excellent resource for educators on how to take immediate action to create sustainable change.
We need to reimagine agriculture and lessen the impact agriculture brings on the environment by reducing high water consumption and pesticide release. The impact of this overuse and not allowing our natural resources to replenish, further exacerbates Climate Change, destroying crops with extreme weather.
The good news is: this is possible. We have the technology to invent a new paradigm for agriculture. To reimagine the future of our food.
Together, we can shape a new future, better for you, better for the planet.
Grow Healthy, Live Tasty.