Did you know that Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth and yet despite this scarcity of water, Australians are among the highest consumers of water per capita?
With long-standing droughts drying out rivers, bushfires blazing throughout our states, and seasonably small rainfall, it is more important now than ever to protect our precious water supplies.
The truth is, we’re all guilty of being wasteful when it comes to water. It’s easy to forget that this life-giving resource is not infinite when a constant supply of clean, flowing water is always available to us.
But with climate change and over-consumption putting our freshwater supplies at risk, it’s time for us to take action. Starting in our own homes.
Here are some easy ways that YOU can make a difference:
Turn off the Tap
Let’s start with the most obvious solution – keep those taps tightly off when you don’t need to be running water. Leaving the tap running when brushing your teeth, waiting for your shower to heat up or washing dishes under running water wastes up to a whopping 10L per minute, which quickly adds up over the course of the day!
One tip is instead of running the tap in summer until it gets cold enough to drink, keep a cold bottle of tap water in the fridge for drinking and top it up when it runs low.
Don’t forget to fix those leaky taps too – even a slowly dripping tap can waste up to 20,000 litres a year!
Did you know that new dishwashers use less water than hand washing? Especially if you rinse your plates rather than scraping them – which isn’t good for your pipes either.
Only use your dishwasher and washing machine with full loads to optimise water usage, or change the settings to suit the load. Try to even cut your washing by just one load a week, and you could save almost 2,600L each year!
Plug and Re-use
Instead of letting water quite literally go down the drain, collect ‘leftover’ water to hydrate your plants before pulling out the hose.
Put a plug in the sink or use a bowl when cleaning fruit and veg or waiting for your water temperature to go up or down, and give your garden a drenching with what’s left. Once you see how quickly your sink fills when it doesn’t go down the drain, you’ll realise just how much goes to waste!
Use the smallest pot for the food you’re cooking to prevent using more water than necessary when boiling or steaming. It will also help to save you time and electricity as the water will heat up faster.
Reuse the water from boiled or steamed foods to boil or steam other foods or reuse when making sauces and soups. You’ll also hang on to those extra nutrients that get lost during boiling – bonus!
Don’t forget that the food we eat also requires water to grow. Much of the food we consume uses up vast resources of water in the farming and manufacturing process.
Be mindful of your food choices. When it comes to meat, which has a much larger water footprint, eat best and eat less. Select from small-scale, organic farmers, who use regenerative farming techniques to save water, care for our environment, and protect future food supplies too.
Shorten your Shower
A 10 minute shower, which would be about average for most people, uses up approximately 200 litres of water. Add on the time spent waiting for the water to warm up, and you have yourself a LOT of wasted water.
Any time you shorten your shower by is a great improvement, but a 3 minute shower should be your daily goal. You can buy 3 minute shower timers to let you know when it’s time to hop out, or pop a short song on so you know its time to rinse off by the time the last verse swings around. Turning off the water when you shampoo your hair or shave is another easy way to save water going down the drain.
Gain from the Rain
Although rainfall has been rather sparse this year, make the most of every drop when it does arrive by installing a rainwater tank in your garden. You can connect this tank to your shower and bath, and depending on where you live, it can even be plumbed into your toilet and washing machine.
Train your Garden
The biggest water savings you can make are in the garden. On your rostered watering day, watering before 9am is best as it allows for the water to soak into the roots and be available to your plants throughout the day when they need it most. Try to make use of any ‘grey water’ you’ve collected from the kitchen and bathroom first.
Don’t over-water your lawn (if you have one). Teach it to use less water by encouraging the roots to grow deeper. Also, set your mower level higher during summer and let your lawn grow longer. Keeping grass longer shades the soil surface and reduces evaporation loss.
Good quality mulch also helps reduce evaporation by keeping the moisture around plant roots. Protect your garden by applying 5-10 cm of a chunky mulch and help achieve water savings of up to 20%. It is also a great way to stop the weeds!
You could also grow a more ‘water-wise’ garden using plants with low water requirements, like our very own native variants. Your local wildlife will thank you for it too.
And always use a pool cover when the pool is not in use as this will help to minimise evaporation (and save you the chore of scooping out leaves… double win).
If it’s Yellow…
That’s right – we say let it mellow! Only flush the toilet when you have to, and choose the half flush whenever possible. Check your toilet for leaks too!
Do you have any more handy tips to add? Let us know in our MCO Farm Group!