close up of spigot on the side of a building

The Importance of Water Conservation

Week 26

As Americans, we rarely consider the idea of running out of water. Taking showers, using toilets, washing clothes; water is a significant part of our daily lives and we are fortunate to live in a country where we have an abundance it of it...for now. In the rest of the world, 844 million people lack access to basic drinking water and that number is climbing with every passing year. We are on the verge of a global water shortage and this week, we'll start doing our part to conserve every drop we can.

Why is water shortage a concern?

The planet has always had a history of warming and cooling. However, thanks to humans, it has been heating up at record rates. Through ancient evidence like tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rock, scientists have discovered that the current warming is occurring about ten times faster that previous average ice-age recovery rates.

The rise in global temperature directly affects precipitation, as highlighted by this excerpt from National Geographic:

In broad terms, while the wettest regions of the U.S. are getting wetter, the drier areas are getting drier, and there are some seasonal shifts in water patterns—rising temperatures mean the snowmelt that feeds many rivers begins and ends earlier, contributing to summer water shortages.

When you look at a map of Earth, it's hard to imagine ever running out of water. However, less than 1% is available for humans to use. In the United States, 40 out of 50 states are anticipating water shortages. And according to Science Daily, research shows that we will not have enough fresh water to meet demand by 2040, if changes are not made beforehand.

How much water do we use?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family uses 300 gallons of water every day at home and roughly 70% of that usage occurs indoors. Toilets, showers, washing machines, and running faucets are the biggest culprits. Use this water calculator to get an estimate of how much water your household goes through on a daily basis.

Obviously, individuals aren't the only ones to blame, since industry is responsible for the highest percentage of water usage. For instance, one 5-pound bag of refined white sugar requires about 88 gallons of water. A single pair of jeans uses about 2,866 gallons. It takes around 39,090 gallons to make one domestic car. Even one cup of coffee needs roughly 37 gallons of water to be made.

How can I conserve water?

The first step to cutting back on water usage is to be more mindful of the water you're using. For instance, take shorter showers, opt for water-efficient appliances, and don't leave water running unecessarily. Take a look at my next post for 20 Ways to Conserve Water. And if you're feeling handy, follow my easy tutorial for How to Make a Rain Barrel, that you can use to water your garden.

20 Easy Ways to Conserve Water →