11 Easy Ways To Save Water – On The Road And At Home

Living in the desert for decades made me more aware of our water needs and the need to save water than I’ve been before. And I’m proud to say that since it is a talked-about issue and the city makes it a point to send out notes about people’s usages, our household shows up as using much less than the average. The difference is huge, which makes me wonder how can people use so much water? We don’t go to drastic measures to save water, we are doing it almost not even being aware of it, just using common sense.

These numbers made me think we must be doing something others aren’t aware of. So, I thought it might be worth to share our day-to-day habits, both while traveling, and at home. While doing so, I found the following ways to save water that anyone can do.

1. Don’t leave the water running when not needed

The most obvious of these is leaving the water running while brushing your teeth. I can’t imagine doing it, I never really felt the need to, and never did, but it’s the first thing they teach the kids in school, too. So there must be people out there who do it. Please, don’t. There is no need for it. Turn the faucet on to wet your toothbrush, to get water in a cup, then turn it off while you’re brushing. Turn it back on to rinse the sink. At least that’s what we do in our household. It’s easy enough that anyone can do it.

I catch myself leaving the water running while doing dishes by hand though. It is one habit I am still working on. It just seems easier to leave it running even as I scrub dishes. When my husband is home, he reminds me I don’t need the water running constantly. Yes, it takes a second longer to turn it off then turn it back on again to rinse. But it really is not a big deal; it just needs to become a habit.

Same goes for washing your hands. To be fair, it is another one I struggle with. But in all reality we don’t need the water to run constantly while we are soaping up. I admit, I still do leave it on most of the time. But it is easy enough to turn it on to wet our hands, turn it off while soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse.

2. Take shorter – and possibly fewer – showers

I know how good it feels to take a long shower. And by all means, once in a while you could indulge. But for everyday showers you can get clean in about 5 minutes instead of 20. Even if you have long hair.

Or, you can install a water saving shower head.

You also should consider showering less frequently. Most people don’t need to shower daily, unless they work in an environment where they get very sweaty or very dirty. Daily showers are not good for your skin – or your hair- , anyway.

We tend to shower more often when on the road, especially if we hike a lot when we sweat and get dusty. But we still try to keep them short.

3. Run your washer and dishwasher only when full

Dishwashers use a lot of water, so it is better to wash your dishes by hand – if you only have a few. And when you turn it on, make sure it’s full. Since we are now a household of only three people, I don’t run the dishwasher every day. We don’t need to, it’s easy enough to wash everything by hand.

But sometimes I can still fill the dishwasher, and those are the only times I use it. Which turns out to be every few days or maybe once a week. If you have a larger family, you obviously need to run it more often – unless someone in the family enjoys washing dishes (some kids actually do), but make sure you have a full load.

Same goes for the washing machine. Don’t run it until you have a full load.

And, with both of these appliances, if you need to replace them make sure you get one that uses less water. In the case of the washing machines, the front loading ones use less.

4. Keep your landscape water-friendly

This generally means using native plants for your landscaping needs. Native plants adapted to your area’s environment, and won’t need additional watering – at least not as much.

I love desert plants and after a few years of trying to grow non-native plants, like everyone else around me, I decided to just “let it be”. Meaning let the backyard be desert. Sometimes it’s green, like now, in spring, after some rain. I have my own wildflower garden, and subsequently a bird sanctuary in our post-stamp-size backyard. We have bees, birds, and butterflies in our yard, besides a colorful patch of native plants we don’t need to water.

5. Use rainwater

You don’t need to be a desert-dweller to do this – my great-grandma used to keep a bucket our to catch rainwater, and she lived in an area with abundance of water. But people living in desert environments do it more often. Use the rainwater to water your plants later, set it out for a bird bath, or give it to your pets to drink.

6. You can even reuse your cooking water

If you cook pasta or potatoes, or anything else where you don’t need the broth, instead of letting the water go down the drain, catch it in a pot and use it later (after it cooled down completely) to water your plants. It even adds some nutrients to their soil.

7. Skip single-use plates and cups

You might think using paper plates and cups has nothing to do with saving water. I used to think it actually saves water, since we use water to wash the reusable ones. We just don’t use them to save the trees; and we don’t use single-use plastic to save the planet.

However, this habit also saves water, as unlikely as it seems. Turns out, it takes 8 gallons of water to make one single paper plate. A full dishwasher uses less, at 6 gallons. This is something you wouldn’t think of as relating to water, but even these choices affect it.

8. Choose reusable water bottles

Again, this one sounds like the fight against single-use plastic (which it is also), but you actually waste water when you buy bottled. According to the Academy of Sciences, it takes 3 liters of water to produce one liter of bottled one.

Besides saving water and going plastic-free, it is also healthier to use a reusable water bottle. The single-use plastic (especially the cheaper brands) tends ot leak into the water, especially if you freeze it. Instead, invest in a good alternative, even one with its own filter, that you can use anywhere.

Drinking water in National Parks and on the road

National Parks encourage you to carry your own water bottle. In fact, most of them don’t even sell water in single-use plastic containers. Instead, they have refiling stations in the Visitor Centers and at trailheads to refill your own bottles and/or camelpacks. And, if you forgot to bring one, they sell them in their gift shops.

9. Be aware of your food choices

The beef industry is not only one of the biggest polluters of the planet, they also use some of the most water. They also pollute rivers, which hurts the water supply of towns and villages downstream from a ranch. We’ve seen this in Southern Arizona, where a park ranger in Tumacacori National Park warned visitors against touching the water of a stream since they found several strands of bacteria in it due to the cattle ranch upstream.

You might not want to eliminate beef from your diet altogether, but you can eat less of it, and when buying it, try to make sure it’s from a sustainable source. My family still eats beef and meat in general, but we limit it. We only eat beef a few times a year, and chicken once or twice a week. Most days we go meatless, though we also eat fish about once a week.

Besides the beef and meat industry, agriculture uses the most water. I don’t really have a good answer to this, so instead, I’ll just say, don’t waste the food you buy or produce.

Although, if you live in an area where you can garden without wasting too much water, your best bet is to grow your own food. You’ll use less water, and also eat healthier given that you get your food fresh every time.

10. Saving water when you are staying in hotels

If you end up staying in a hotel for more than one night, put the “do not disturb” sign on the door when you leave for the day. This way, they don’t clean your room, don’t change your sheets and towels, which saves water. You can reuse a towel more than once, and you definitely don’t need new sheets every night. I’m sure you are not changing your sheets every day at home (but if you do, please stop. It is not only a waste of water when you wash sheets you only used once, but frequent washing contributes to them getting worn and needing replaced more often.

11. Other ways to save water while on the road

Use hand sanitizer

As we found out in recent years, staying free of germs translates into general health safety on the road. And the best way to do this – while also saving water – is to keep hand sanitizers in the car. Not only they keep you safe from germs, but you can use it instead of using too much water to constantly wash your hands.

Saving steams from pollution

It is common sense for most of us, but when hiking or camping in pristine areas, don’t use streams or rivers to wash clothes or even bathe, unless it is permitted.

The Importance of Conserving Water

In the desert it is obvious that we all need to conserve water. And maybe that’s why we are all more aware of our water consumption. But habits to save water are important everywhere, even in places where waters abundant – or so it seems.

In places where water is abundant, polluting the rivers and streams cause a big problem. And worldwide one billion people lack access to clean, healthy water. So, it is important not only to conserve water, but to save it, keep it clean, keep it available for everyone on the planet.

World Water Day held every year is designated to bring awareness to the water and sanitation problems our world faces today and to find solutions to fix them. And the World Water Conference, held for three days, including today, seeks the best solutions for our water problems.

This year, in 2023, World Water Day is about accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. And because water affects us all, we all need to take action. The above ideas are only a few of the easiest solutions that help, especially if more people implemented them.

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