My water footprint is 1,092 gallons, which is about 100 less than the national average. That’s not great, considering that I don’t own a home and therefore don’t use much water. It doesn’t seem obvious, but your water footprint does have an impact on your finances, now and in the future. It also has an impact on the future of the planet.

What Is a Water Footprint?
Your water footprint is the amount of water that you use per year. H20Conserve.org measures it in gallons while WaterFootprint.org uses cubic meters.

Your water footprint isn’t restricted to the amount of water you consume, personally use, or use in your home, though. It also includes the amount of water required to produce the food you eat and the products you use. It seems counter-intuitive, but vegetables actually use less water than meat. Gasoline actually requires a lot of water.

Why Does It Matter?
As with all things footprint-related, Americans use way more resources than people in most other countries. Since North America only has 15% of the world’s freshwater, we’re using far more than our fair share.

To ensure that there is enough water to go around, we should be more aware of our water usage and try to cut back where we can. Europeans already use less water than we do, so perhaps we should follow their example.

As an added bonus, wiser water usage will actually save you money. If you buy fewer new clothes or products to save water, you also avoid spending money on them. If you use less water at home, you’ll cut your water bill.

How to Reduce Your Water Usage
There are a number of ways to reduce your water usage, some of which you might already be doing, some of which you might not.

Install low-flow showerheads and faucets. These showerheads and faucets are so well made that you won’t notice much of a change in water pressure, but you will notice the difference on your water bill.

Install low-flow toilets. Some people use a brick in the tank to displace water instead, but a low-flow toilet is better in the long-run. If you already have a low-flow toilet, don’t add a brick to the tank to save more water. These toilets are designed to use a specific amount of water and won’t work properly if the water is too low.

Don’t run the water. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, washing your face, or doing the dishes. When doing the dishes, fill one side of the sink with soapy water, then put the sudsy dishes in the other half so you can rinse them all at once.

Choose native grass and other plants. Most people in this country have gorgeous green lawns, but those lawns aren’t native in most regions. If you live in a region where those loans aren’t native, you’re wasting a lot of water to keep them alive. Instead, choose grasses and other plants that are native to your region and can stand up to your natural weather cycle. That will also reduce your water bill because you’ll need less of it to keep your garden pretty.

Eat less meat. Meat is very water-intensive to produce, so the less of it you eat, the more water you save. You’ll probably also save money on groceries.

Reuse and recycle. It takes more water to make new clothing, paper, plastic, and home goods, than it does to reuse or recycle it. So instead of throwing something out, make the extra effort. When you find a new use for something or buy something used, you’ll also save money.

When you think about it, reducing your water issue really is a personal finance issue, but it’s also an environmental issue. To make it personal, consider how much money you waste when you also waste natural resources. Hopefully, that will get you to save water, which will help you and the planet.

What’s your water footprint?

Source: June issue of Discover Magazine.

Comments

One Response to “What’s Your Water Footprint?”

  1. Jeff in PDX on June 10th, 2008 11:15 am

    Also if you live in a region that gets a lot of rain then consider getting rain barrels. I live in portland and fill about 5, 55 gallon drums full of water. I use that water for my plants and to wash the dogs/car all summer long.

    1 inch of rain on your roof = 250 gallons (or something like that)

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