SUSTAINABILITY

How to Reduce Your Water Footprint (& how to Celebrate World Water Day While in Quarantine!)

By  | 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Please see my disclosure.

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint? Everything you need to know about how to reduce your water waste – one of the best ways to change your footprint!

Water. The most important resource. Yet, one of the biggest problems the world faces today but there are many ways how to reduce water waste. 

You may think – well isn’t the planet made up of 70% water. Yes, it is but only 2.5% of that water is accessible freshwater. So, while the oceans are EQUALLY as important for the environment and ecosystem, it is not accessible drinking water. 

World Water Day’s theme for 2020 is the relationship between water and climate change – which is undeniably linked. Adapting to the water effects of climate change will protect health, reserve resources, and save lives.

By using water more efficiently, greenhouse gases will be reduced and this will help fight the rate of climate change. 

Education and awareness, as with many things, play a huge role in conserving water and climate change. However, there is no more time – in order to change the outcomes that wasting water and climate change is having, we must act. 

There are many ways how to reduce water waste that every single person can do.

Every year on March 22, the United Nations recognizes World Water Day to shed light on the importance of universal access to clean water and sustainable freshwater management.

With this year being about climate change, there are many ways to reflect on this and how it is directly related to water.

  • The balance between evaporation and precipitation is where climate changes are felt.
  • Higher temperatures increase the evaporation rate and that leads to dryer lands while causing excess precipitation in other areas.
  • Climate change leads to droughts, floods, melting glaciers, sea-level rise, and stronger storms and national disasters.

As we’re all aware, this World Water Day won’t be the same. There are not likely (and shouldn’t be) events happening as there usually are. Ironically on this World Water Day, people are focused on washing their hands.

While stopping the spread of COVID-19 around the world is of utmost priority right now, there’s no reason why we all can’t learn a bit more about World Water Day and why it’s important. Take this day (you’re stuck at home anyway!) to reflect on the importance of clean, accessible water and ways you can help protect the most important resource and combat climate change at the same time.

READ THIS POST  Zero Waste Gifts - Gift Ideas for the Sustainable Traveler

If you find yourself incredibly anxious during this time, I’ve put together my best ways to handle anxiety (I have generalized anxiety disorder).

How World Vision is Changing Lives with Water

I wrote this post in support of and partnership with World Vision. They are providing clean water to one new person every ten seconds

From World Vision’s February 2020 water newsletter:

World Vision exceeded our yearly targets by reaching 3.4 million people with sustainable clean water, 2.6 million people with household sanitation, and 4.3 million people with hygiene behavior change promotion efforts. We also reached an additional 900,000 people with clean water during emergency situations.

There are plenty of ways you can help support this wonderful organization in their efforts to provide clean and accessible water or any of their other projects. 

image via World Vision

 

Ways to Celebrate World Water Day in 2020 [aka While Stuck at Home]

READ THIS POST  Responsible Travel Guide to Kathmandu, Nepal
world water day

Ways to Reduce Your Water [and Carbon] Footprint

Curious what your water footprint is right now? Check it out here. Once you finish, input your email and every three months they’ll remind you to come back and see how you’ve improved. They also give you tips on how to reduce each area. 

Adopt a Plant-Based Diet

Most of our water footprint, and therefore carbon footprint, is comprised of food production – specifically animal agriculture. 

The meat industry uses the most water of all food production. Let me explain why:

When you grow corn for human consumption, there’s the water to grow the corn, harvest it, and transport it. 

When you grow corn for animal consumption for human consumption, there’s the water to grow the corn, harvest it, transport it, and feed it to the animals. THEN, there’s the water used to raise the livestock, transport them, slaughter them, butcher them, and transport the meat. 

Additionally, in terms of dairycow’s milk has the highest water footprint of all milk. The most environmentally and socially responsible milk [from my own research] is oat milk. It also happens to be the tastiest in my opinion. 

By reducing animal agriculture, you significantly reduce your water and carbon footprint. 

Buy Only Secondhand or Sustainable Fashion

One of the worst industries out there? The fast fashion industry. It’s horrible for our carbon footprint, for inhumane working conditions, environmental destruction, and animal abuse. 

Decrease Everyday Water Usage

This is an important step and something to be very aware of; however, please know there is a lot of greenwashing I feel. There’s a hell of a lot of focus on decreasing your shower time, for instance. 

I agree that, yes, you should. But, here’s an example to put things into perspective. The same amount of water it takes to produce one single pound of beef would be the same water you would use to take 135 showers. 

So, yes, please reduce your shower time, but know there are ways to decrease your water footprint more efficiently and dramatically. 

That being said, here are some great ways to decrease everyday water usage that won’t even affect you:

  • Upgrade your toilet if you’re in a position to do so. High-efficiency toilets use significantly less water. However, I would suggest perhaps waiting until you need to replace it as you’re just creating more waste. It’s all a Catch-22 situation. Better yet, get a composting toilet!
  •  Say ‘Goodbye!’ to the idea of a perfect curated lawn. The “American lawn” is one of the most ridiculous and wasteful things – grass is the single most irrigated crop in the entire country. Instead of using a ton of water to grow and maintain the perfect grass, turn your front lawn into a vegetable garden or a bunch of indigenous plants for bees and butterflies!
READ THIS POST  A Q&A with Dear God, Are We There Yet Founder Alicia Sanchez – The New Peer to Peer Socially Conscious Volunteer Platform

lawn

  • Collect rainwater to water your gardens and even indoor houseplants!
  • Don’t leave the water running. Brushing your teeth, washing your hands, washing dishes? Turn off the water while you’re actually brushing or washing. No need to leave it on. 
  • Only wash dishes and laundry when you have a full load. Running them before that is just wasteful. I know you can set the load size on the washer, but you can’t on a dishwasher so it uses the same amount of water anyway and I’m not convinced washers use less water depending on the setting. 
  • Eat locally and seasonally. Attempt to purchase your produce from farmers’ markets or CSA’s. In-season produce requires less water, fertilizers, and pesticides.  The transportation of fruits and vegetables produced locally involves less GHG emissions, as the distance to the supermarket shelves is much shorter and needs less energy for refrigeration. Additionally, you’re supporting local businesses.
  • Eat more produce, in general. Whether local and in-season or not, produce and fresh foods are going to take less water for production than processed foods. And, they’re healthier for you!

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Attempt to significantly reduce purchasing new items. Anything that is produced uses water. While decreased water usage, reducing, reusing, and recycling also reduces waste and saves money. 

Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Including Bottled Water

It takes at least twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water contained in the bottle.

Bottled water is either purified water which is just tap water that is filtered – something you can do at home – or spring water. This water is sourced from springs across the country

Bottled water companies have gone in and depleted water sources and then charged us a tremendous amount of money to buy back that water in plastic. 

RESOURCES

Planning a trip for the future? Here are my resources.
Interested in starting a blog? Use these resources
Read my other sustainability posts.

↓↓↓ PIN FOR LATER ↓↓↓


Ashley Hubbard is a blogger and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. She shares these experiences on her website, wild-hearted.com.

9 Comments

  1. Juliann Jones

    March 24, 2020 at 12:23 PM

    So many great ideas! I love that you shared a list of documentaries we could watch. I will definitely look into those. And I’m taking your mention of composting as a sign that I really should start one as soon as I can. I was just at my children’s farm and took them table scraps I’d saved all week, but now that we’re sheltering in place, I’m not sure when I’ll get out there again. I need to start my own!

  2. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    March 25, 2020 at 8:42 PM

    I need to start a compost bin. Jenn will be wigged out, but it’s the right thing to do. I have been mowing my lawn regularly with a non-powered mower and letting the clippings mulch in place. I have been also hand pulling the weeds with all the rain we’ve been having. I keep thinking of ways to ditch the lawn all together.

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 29, 2020 at 9:10 AM

      It’s honestly not as bad as it sounds. Ours is inside and it gets picked up weekly. Never smells or anything. If you do a garden one or just outside, she’ll never even notice it 😉

  3. Mikkel

    March 26, 2020 at 9:48 AM

    We love the idea of watching a water documentary to commemorate the day. And we didn’t even know it was a “holiday” until we read your post. People don’t think about water until they don’t have it – and they DEFINITELY take it for granted. We are in the camp of 100% agreement that water is linked with climate change. Thanks for bringing this day to light for us!

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 29, 2020 at 9:09 AM

      No problem! Definitely a “first world problem” to not think about these things. I hope people start paying attention soon though.

  4. Bell

    March 26, 2020 at 8:20 PM

    Great tips on wisely using our precious resource of water. Too many of us take for granted our water is clean and safe to drink and use. Shorter showers, turning the tap off while you’re actually brushing your teeth, are all simple ways to reduce your use because every drop does matter. I’m actually always amazed by how much water is in many toilets in the US, all that is fresh drinking water. Blows my mind! Thanks for putting this together.

    • Ashley Hubbard

      April 29, 2020 at 9:08 AM

      It’s interesting. You don’t realize how much water is in the US toilets til you go elsewhere. Always seemed like a normal amount to me before that.

  5. Sarah

    March 27, 2020 at 11:59 AM

    Lots of good ideas and tips here. I’m definitely trying to eat more plant based – it was super easy in India and especially Sri Lanka, so I’m trying to use those recipes at home. Also always trying to reduce single use plastic! I hope there were some virtual events at least, although you’re totally right that a lot of the in person celebrations were probably canceled – like everything is at the moment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *