As you you've probably heard, California is in a state of emergency over an extended drought. How bad is it? California faces water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history. Governor Brown has urged conservation in the state saying, “The more water we use, the less water we have. The more water we save, the more water we have.”
In the spirit of conservation this month we wanted to share some tips on how to save water. We've organized our tips by the "basic," "progressive," and "hard core" things you can do to make significant reduction in your water use footprint. Can these individual actions add up to enough savings? Shortening showers by 5 minutes can save 12 gallons or more, and turning off the faucet while washing your hands can save 1/2 gallon. If everyone saved a gallon of water a day at UCSC, weekly campus use could be reduced by around 24,000 gallons!
- Turn off the faucet while washing hands and brushing teeth (rinse, turn off water, soap up, turn water back on to rinse).
- If it's yellow, let it mellow! Depending upon the flow rate of your toilet, you could save nearly 2 gallons of water each time you let it mellow.
- Reduce your shower length to 5 minutes or less. For an average showerhead with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, a 5 minute shower only uses 12.5 gallons of water. Compare that to a 15 minute shower, which uses a whopping 37.5 gallons.
- If you live off campus consider getting a low-flow shower head and an aerator for your sink to reduce the amount of water that comes out of the tap. These are reversible changes, so even if you rent you can make these alterations. The Santa Cruz Water Conservation office can provide you with these for free! Learn more here.
- Turn the water off in the shower when you shampoo, lather up, and shave. Sometimes called a "Navy Shower," you can conserve additional water with this method during your five-minute-or-less shower.
- One thing you might not have thought about is the amount of water that goes into producing the food for your diet. According to an article in the LA Times, "It takes more than 1,000 gallons of water a day per person to produce the food (and drinks) in the average U.S. diet." The food we eat requires a lot of water to produce, especially the meat we eat. In order to save water, think about skipping the meat once a week or look into alternatives to the meat option at the dining halls. If you're not willing to give up the meat, any amount of reduction can help. Skip dessert one night a week, cut back on the coffee, anything can help!
- You can also use the same dishes twice. Unless you just ate something really messy and smelly you can most likely use the plate you used to eat lunch on, for dinner as well! No need to wash in between!