You have probably heard this statistic about water: it covers over 70% of the earth. Hearing this makes most people assume that there is plenty to go around, but this isn’t necessarily the case. You see, of that huge amount of water on earth, over 97% is salt water that cannot be consumed by people. This leaves us with just over 2% as fresh water, much of which exists as frozen icecaps or lies so far below the surface of the earth that humans cannot access it.
What does this mean for people?
When you get right down to it, less than 1% of the water on earth is available to be used by people. While water is a renewable resource, that small amount of available water is being used up faster than rain and snow can replenish it.
What can we do?
The EPA estimates that the average American family uses over 300 gallons of water each day, and this statistic only includes water used within the home. If every family in America made a pointed effort to conserve more water, we could save not only money, but a precious resource that may not always be readily available. Having low-flow appliances and fixtures installed in your home is a fantastic way to save water without having to change your daily habits. Consider these changes:
If an average faucet in your home was run for 4 minutes each day, it would use roughly 4,000 gallons of water per year. On the other hand, a low-flow faucet would use 3,000 gallons in the same time span. A water-saving faucet could save over 1,000 gallons year, but that figure is probably even higher considering most homes use multiple faucets for more than a few minutes each day.
A standard toilet that is flushed 15 times per day has an average water consumption of 33,000 gallons each year. That’s a lot of water! By switching to water-saving toilets, your home could conserve thousands of gallons of water annually, as low-flow toilets tend to use only 9,000 gallons a year. Think of what a great impact this change would make not only on the world’s resources, but also on your water bill.
A standard shower head, used for 15 minutes per day every other day, uses roughly 19,000 gallons of water in a year. That statistic, when put in the perspective of an average American household that will use the shower multiple times each day, is staggering. Consider a water-saving shower head, which cuts water consumption by more than 50%, at 9,000 gallons used per year.
Many people forget appliances like the washing machine when they are considering water conservation, but installing a water-saving washing machine can go a long way in protecting earth’s valuable resources. A standard machine, if used twice a week, will use roughly 5,000 gallons of water a year, whereas a water-saving machine will use only 3,000. Once again, consider these figures in the framework of the average American family, many of whom use their washing machine far more than twice a week.
Taking these steps to conserve the earth’s fresh water requires no change in your daily routine, but will have a huge impact on the environment. Using all of the water-saving fixtures outlined above, your home could save roughly 40,000 gallons of water each year! If not for the earth, then at least consider the money that will be saved on your family’s water bill each month.