In the guide below, we outline three potential tips for how individuals can save water in daily life.
Summary – How Individuals Can Save Water In Daily Life
The Daily Water Footprint Of Individuals
The daily water footprint of individuals might be made up of three main things:
– Products and services (products, services and activities also have an embedded water footprint)
– Direct water use (particularly around the home)
The Main Ways Individuals Might Save Water
Based on this, the main ways an individual might save water on a daily basis might be:
– Considering the water footprint of the foods they eat (or their overall diet), and/or, reducing the amount of food they waste (food waste has it’s own water and resource footprint)
However, people should always seek the advice of a health professional before making changes to their diet
People should stick to foods and diets that provide the nutrition they need, and are suitable for their individual health requirements
– Considering the products and services they use, and considering their consumption overall rate
– Considering activities that use water directly at home, and being aware of water leaks
Direct vs Indirect Water Use
In each of the above areas, there can be both a direct and indirect water use.
Direct water use is the water we see
Indirect water use is the the water we don’t see, that gets used at another stage of the lifecycle of a product or service.
Saving Water On A Society Wide Scale
In addition to saving water on the individual level, there might be various ways that water can be saved on a society wide scale too.
This may involve looking at water withdrawals and water use across the main sectors in society – agriculture, industry and municipal use.
Understanding That Not All Water Use Is Bad
Something we mention in a separate guide is that not all water use is always bad.
The type of water being used matters, as well as the net impact of using that water, plus other factors.
So, saving water (in the sense of using less water) may not always be the top priority when it comes to water management, depending on the potential outcomes of that water use
1. Consider The Water Footprint In Food, & Food Waste
The Water Footprint Of Food, & Food Waste
All food has a water footprint, and, according to several reports, the food we eat and the food we waste is responsible for the biggest portion of an individual’s daily water footprint by a significant margin.
This may make some sense when we consider that agriculture (and irrigation in particular) is responsible (on average) for around 70% of global fresh water withdrawals
When it comes to food waste, the embedded water footprint of food (which is irrigated water in many countries) has to be considered i.e. when food is wasted, the water used to produce that food is also indirectly wasted
Reducing Food Related Water Footprint
Two ways to decrease our food related water footprint might be:
1. Be Mindful Of The Water Footprint Of The Foods We Consume, & Our Food Diets
Generally, some animal meats, like beef for example, can be water intensive
Diets high in animal meat compared to more plant based diets can sometimes be more water intensive too
Substituting animal meat or animal product intake may be one option
Another option may be simply substituting snacks with a higher water footprint for snacks with a lower one
Illustrating one example of snack substitution … a banana may in some instances be more water friendly than a chocolate bar (however, serving size should also be taken into account, as well as the type of chocolate)
It takes … 450 gallons (1700 liters) of water to make a typical 3.5-ounce (100-gram) chocolate bar (blog.nationalgeographic.org)
The global average water footprint (per kg) is 860 litres for bananas, and 24,000 litres for chocolate (waterfootprint.org)
2. Reduce Food Waste
Reducing food waste might be achieved in several ways
Some of those ways may include:
Planning food shopping, and not engaging in impulse buying of non-planned foods
Saving food as leftovers where possible (and not just throwing it out)
Storing food in a way where it’s less likely to spoil or go ‘off’. This may especially be the case for perishable foods like fruit and vegetables
Read more about food waste in this guide.
2. Consider The Water Footprint In Products, Services & Activities
The Water Footprint In Products, Services & Activities
We might use 167 litres of industrial water a day (which makes up a small part of the total 3800 litres of our daily visible and invisible water footprint).
Reducing Industry Related Water Footprint
Two ways to decrease our industrial related water footprint might be:
1) Be Mindful Of The Water Footprint Of The Products We Consume, & Services We Use
As an example, cotton can be a water hungry fibre crops to grow in some countries, and is used heavily in textiles
We might look to substitute some or all cotton fibres in garments and textiles where possible for less water hungry fibres
As another example, vehicles use a lot of water in their manufacture and operation
Buying a secondhand or pre-used vehicle may be one option to address this
Walking more or riding a bike more instead of driving the car (where safe and practical to do so), may be another option
Another example is the energy sources we use for electricity in the home and in buildings – wind, solar photovoltaic and natural gas produced electricity might use less water intensiv than coal produced electricity according to some measureables,
Using less electricity, or using energy efficient appliances, and energy efficient light bulbs, might be other options
2) Be Mindful Of Our Overall Consumption Rate
The more we consume, and the faster we consume, the higher our water footprint of consumption might be
So, reducing our overall consumption rate, reducing the speed of our consumption, and reducing overconsumption or excessive consumption, may be ways to address this
One example of this might be buying clothes that are higher quality and last longer, as opposed to engaging in fast fashion
Another example might be buying secondhand clothes
Another example might be repairing a car, or waiting a few years to upgrade, instead of buying a new one straight away. Buying a car second hand may be another option.
The practicality and performance of these tradeoffs have to be weighed up here though – it may not always make practical sense not to buy new in some instances
3. Consider The Direct Water Footprint In Your Home
Water Footprint At Home
How We Use Water At Home
Both activities we do at home, and appliances and devices at home use water.
We wrote two guides that outline water use for both these things here:
A small excerpt from that information shows us that:
One study provided by wikipedia.org indicates that the devices or activities that use the most water indoors by % share in the house are:
17% Clothes Washers
Another report provided by thewaterweeat.com indicates that:
35% goes towards bathing and showering, 30% to flushing the toilet, 20% to laundry, 10% to cooking and drinking, and 5% to cleaning
In arid and hotter environments, a large portion or even majority of water use can occur outside in the yard, on lawns and plants, or garden.
Something that isn’t mentioned in the information above is the issue of water leaks at home.
Water leaks of things like pipes, and also taps/faucets can waste a lot of water too.
How To Save Water At Home
We listed and described a range of potential solutions addressing the above things in this guide:
As a summary, we discuss things like:
– Reducing the amount of water we use for the activities around the house that use the most water, or, not being wasteful with this water use
– Using water efficient appliances, devices and fixtures where possible
– Being mindful of outdoor water use, and having water efficient irrigation and sprinkler systems where possible
– Monitoring, and fixing water leaks as they arise around the home
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