Wasting Away, Drip by Drip

by DavalosMcCormack on June 14, 2010

Have you ever watched someone brushing their teeth? Forget their technique, focus instead on their use of the water. Many people simply leave the tap running while they brush. If they brush for the recommended two minutes, that’s an awful lot of water heading down the sink that could be saved.

Same with men shaving. A lot of men leave the water running while they shave. There’s no real need to. It’s not as if it takes ages for the water to power back up when you need it, you just turn on the tap and the water comes right out. Because most men shave using hot water, this isn’t just wasting water,  it’s also wasting energy.

Money Down the Drain

Think it’s not a big deal? Let’s do the numbers. In 2006 the US Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the average American uses around two gallons of water  a day on oral hygiene. Two gallons. With 300 million Americans that’s some 600 million gallons of water a day, going down the drain, because we are too lazy to turn off the tap. OK, so not everyone is going to be spending a lot of time brushing teeth. At either end of the age spectrum there may not be any teeth to brush, or any real ones, but that is still a lot of wasted water, and that doesn’t include the water wasted in shaving. Throw in the amount that goes down the drain while you are taking a shower (between 15-25 gallons for the average five minute shower, take a ten minute shower and double those numbers) and pretty soon you are talking about a huge amount of water that is going to waste.

And there are other ways we waste water too. If you have a leaking tap or faucet in your house, say one in the kitchen sink that drips once a second. Every second. Every minute. Every hour of every day. Over the course of a year you are wasting an estimated 2,082 gallons a year. That’s enough for 41 baths. And if you pay for your water usage that’s also an awful lot of extra dollars on your bill that don’t need to be there.

But there’s plenty of water left so who cares, right? Well, wrong. While 80 percent of the earth’s surface is water, only one percent of that water is actually drinkable (the rest is salty ocean water or locked up in ice in the arctic/antarctic) With the world’s population growing rapidly that one percent is coming under ever-increasing strain.

Anything we do to conserve water is important

  • That means not using a garden hose to wash the car – a bucket of soapy water is just as good and you can rinse it with a bucket of clean water
  • Not using a hose to wash leaves out of the driveway. Come on, use a rake or a broom, you need the exercise anyway. Or get the kids to do it. They certainly need the exercise
  • Not letting the tap run while doing the dishes.
  • Not using the dishwasher when you only have a few items or half a load to clean
  • Not watering the garden in the middle of the day. Do it early in the morning or late at night when it won’t all just evaporate

There is a really interesting quiz  on how much water we use and how much we waste at the US Geological Survey website. Take it. See how water wise you are, and how even small changes can make a big difference.

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