Editor's Note: Water is a basic requirement for all life, yet water resources are facing increasing demands from, and competition among, users. In 1992, the UN General Assembly designated March 22 of each year as the World Day for Water, and each year, this day is set aside to think about ways to conserve and protect our quickly dwindling water supplies.
Did you know that most people in the world have to walk over 3 miles just to find clean water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning? Even those that are closer to "fresh" water supplies often suffer from the consequences of contamination and poor sanitation. It seems wrong, wait no- it just IS wrong, to be wasteful with our clean water when so many around the world must live without it.
Sooo... here are five of the niftiest ways you can keep your water usage conservative and clean!
1. Japanese Rain Chains
By harvesting rainwater you can greatly reduce you conventional water consumption, and with rain chains you can do it in style. These rain chains aren't necessarily eco-friendly on their own (but if you know of any DIY or recycled varieties, please tell us in the comments!) but they are a great way to beautify your water harvesting system using this ancient Japanese links. Use rain chains in lieu of traditional down spouts and have them divert rainwater into your rain barrel, or underground water tank.
2. The Shower Bucket
Not as gross as it sounds! Stick a five gallon bucket into the shower while you're waiting for the water to heat up. Last summer, Becky from greenUPGRADER was able to keep her whole front porch garden alive just using water that she collected in the shower bucket. The trick is to rotate your waterings - hit half the plants one day and the other half the next, then lather, rinse, repeat!
3. If it's Yellow, Let it Mellow
This tip might not be for everyone, but it's a huge water saver! You might have to have a little family meeting to get everyone on board, but skipping the flush when you pee adds up to enormous water savings. Toilets average around 2 gallons per flush, so even if you reduce your flushing half the time you use the commode you're conserving quite a bit.
Not crazy about skipping the flush? You might consider using greywater to flush instead!
4. Install A Smart Meter
The amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That's equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined (Source: EPA). Through the use of smart water meters, IBM hopes to encourage a reduction in water waste as well as provide early detection for leaks and damages. Similar to smart electricity meters, these devices monitor water usage and wirelessly transmit data to the utility company. Traditionally, leaks or other system damages that waste water may go unnoticed for months, but with IBM's smart meter, information is collected every 15 minutes.
Learn more about how IBM is helping to tackle the water crisis with technology.
For those that aren't ready to try the "let it mellow" tip, dual-flush toilets might be the answer. The Persuade from Kohler has two flush modes: an already low flow 1.6 gallon flush for solid waste and a reduced 0.8 gallon flush for liquid waste. Using this toilet in lieu of a traditional 2.8 gallon model will reduce your water 67%. With a dual flush kit you can outfit your existing toilet with new innards turning it into a dual flush throne for about $50! The kit is fairly easy to install and if you have a screw driver, a saw, some pliers and some elbow grease you should be all set.
There are many other brands of dual flush toilets available today. Start by learning more here!