Water: What Are We Doing About It? | Seventh Generation
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Water: What Are We Doing About It?

Author: the Inkslinger

Summer's here and our faucets are running full bore. We're watering lawns and washing cars, filling pools and tall glasses, too. But the supplies of the water we're relying on to keep our whistles wet are shrinking each year. And that makes every drop worth saving.

We tend to take water for granted. Until a lawn-shriveling lack of rain and shrinking reservoirs make a shortage something we can see, most of us really don't think much about this most precious of substances. Yet no matter what our own region's water situation looks like, we should, and if you want to see why, just take a squint at this remarkable picture (also above: the spheres, from largest to smallest, represent all of Earth's water, Earth's liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers). It's worth quite a few more than thousand watery words

If you're still not convinced about the need to conserve, the new film, Last Call At the Oasis, will seal the deal. Now playing in limited release (translation: weekend runs at art houses in big cities) but expected on DVD in a few months, this illuminating documentary film looks at what's ailing humanity's fresh water supply. Call it An Inconvenient Truth for the wet set. Trust me—you'll walk out a water conservation convert.

The moral of its story is this: Even if you live in an area where water is presently plentiful, the era where it won't be is probably not too far off. If you live in a place where water is already is short supply, those supplies are only going to get shorter.  Either way, using less today can help prevent a tomorrow where there's no longer enough to go around. That usually means offering some water-saving tips, and we've certainly poured up plenty in the past. But what do you do when you've already done the no-brainers? How about things like these:


  • If you have to wash your car, use a natural detergent and wash it on the lawn where the run-off can run right into your grass to reduce the need for watering. Same goes for washing the dog!
  • Reuse your cooking water. It's still good for a few more boils. Save it in the fridge for next time, use it for soup, or water the houseplants. Just don't pour it down the drain.
  • Wash your produce in a bowl of water instead of under a running tap. Then use that water for your gardens or houseplants.
  • Use one glass, one plate, and one set of utensils all day. Why dirty something new to wash every time you have something to drink or eat?
  • Tape your hoses. Hose connections are notoriously leaky water-wasters. But wrapping the male ends with a few layers of Teflon tape will seal them up tight.
  • Get a rain barrel. Send your gutter water there and use it for your garden, houseplants, lawn, car washings, and other outdoor uses.
  • Don't wash your clothes every time you take them off. Socks and underwear, sure. But pants, sweaters, towels, and other bare necessities can usually be worn more than once before hitting the laundry circuit.
  • Keep some buckets by your bathtub. Save the water you run waiting for it to get hot for other things.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge for ice cold supply of instant refreshment you won't have to run the faucet to enjoy.
  • Mow less frequently and let your grass grow. Taller grass preserves soil moisture and reduces the need for watering.
  • Lastly (and I'll try to be as delicate as possible), if you live where privacy permits such things, consider opening the valve on your own personal plumbing in the great outdoors. This is easier for the boys than the girls, and more for rural folk than city dwellers, but if you can go where things grow, you'll save a flush and deliver unto nature a sterile source of terrific fertilization packed with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

JJJess picture
Good tips! Thanks!
catalpa picture
Everything you state is great. Most of those I do already (including urinating on the compost pile) and I'll add a few new ones, but the desert Southwest has to stop growing as there is no water there (at least not enough local water). Cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas (and I apologize if I offend any residents) are the elephant in the room when water resources are discussed.
216Stitches picture
The thing is it's not endless. Things are going from bad to worse here and the world is drinking our water at the hands of Nestle and Coca Cola. Do you drink bottled water? It may have come from Florida. We have had 4 or more significant sink holes show up in our county in the past month. Grass fed beef? There is a Canadian rancher that has asked for a water permit to take 13 million gallons a day. Thirteen million PER DAY. Yet the largest and worst offender of water sucking in Florida is grass. The bourgeois lawn is by far the greediest little water sucker in the whole state. So, please, I beg you. Do not buy bottled water (or drink it if offered) and if you live in Florida rip out your lawn and xeriscape it. Plant some fruit trees and some perennial food plants. Use that grass for all it's good for: compost.
yancekazuo picture
The absolutely best way to urinate greenly is the compost pile as it helps speed up the decomp process. I have a pot (wish I had my Granny's chamber pot) that I urinate in and I also encourage my hubby to just have at it when he is outside. He has enough privacy if we keep a look out for the neighbors who might drive by.
Stacy7272 picture
The meat industry uses CRAZY amounts of water (and they contaminate lots of the water they aren't using). They get cheap water because it is mostly paid for by our taxes. Stop supporting the meat industry and you'll make a huge impact on water usage.
ebutler23 picture
If you have cooking water that has had salt added, do not put it on any plants--it will damage or kill them.
drumsmetal picture
I've always heard that it's not a good idea to do this because of all of the pills and what not we take. Is this not true?
mwdean picture
These are all great tips, but the last tip isn't so great. Ornamental plantings and lawns can't handle this. It will burn them. I know this from experience!