Green living is a concept that focuses on the future. It is a movement that has grown from the realization that we are destroying our planet for future generations. We can no longer live with the mind-set that we can do whatever we want to the environment today without acknowledging the consequences of tomorrow. Thanks to this lack of vision we are already dealing with such environmental crises as pharmaceutical drugs in our water, ozone depletion, and rising air pollution. We are also using up our natural resources faster than they can be re-generated. One of the key elements to green living is focusing on preserving our eco-system. While recycling is a great way to preserve virgin resources, conservation is equally important. Currently, water conservation should be at the forefront of everyone's mind.
Drought. It is hard to imagine, on our lush tropical island, that the majority of our state is experiencing an ongoing moderate to severe drought. In fact, roughly 50% of our country is suffering from drought conditions. It may be a challenge to grasp the consequences of a water shortage when we are surrounded by water. Even our air here seems saturated. In actuality, Beaufort County is only marginally better off than the rest of our parched state. And in these hot summer months water usage can be off the charts. We water our lawns and our plants. We fill our pools. We shower more because we get hot and sweaty faster and more frequently. All this leads to massive water consumption. Fortunately, there are small, easy changes we can make in our H20 habits that can make a surprisingly big difference.
In The Home:
. Keep a chilled pitcher of water in the fridge for refreshment. Then you don't have to run the water to cool it off before filling up.
. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or soaping up. Only run the water when wetting or rinsing.
. Use a front loading washing machine and avoid running small loads of clothes.
. Unless you are unusually dirty or sweaty try showering every other day. It is better for your skin and hair and will save a ton of water. Also, the average shower uses a lot less water than the average sit down bath.
. Using water to cook? After steaming veggies or boiling pasta, let the water cool and then use it to water household or potted outdoor plants.
In The Yard:
. As much as 60% of all household water use in the summer months is used outdoors for landscape purposes. Interestingly, you don't do your yard any favors by watering more. An established lawn only requires about an inch of water every seven to ten days. Not to mention that frequent watering of your plants and trees and grass encourages shallow root growth and inhibits their ability to survive droughts.
. Cut back on lawn space. There are many esthetically pleasing landscaping options that require no water whatsoever. Rock gardens can be exquisite and very easy to maintain. Or try a combination of ornamental grass and mulch. Another grass alternative is clover. It is drought and insect resistant and competes well with weeds. Or go the English garden route and let local flowers and plants paint a sweeping portrait reminiscent of a Monet. Planting beds require less water than grass.
. Use mulch. Mulch holds moisture and keeps plants and trees from drying out as quickly.
. When container gardening, use terra cotta planters. They may be heavier but they also insulate your plants better and, again, they retain moisture better than cement or synthetic containers.
These simple adjustments are all steps that require little effort with minimal cost. You would be amazed at how much water this can save. To get a better picture of your household water consumption visit www.csgnetwork.com/waterusagecalc.html. Here you will find a water usage calculator. This helped me figure out that if I shaved five minutes off my shower time I could save about 19 gallons of water every time I shower. Let's say I shower daily, that is a savings of 6764 gallons per year. I think I can forego a little hair conditioning time to keep all that water in the rivers and streams where it can support our planet and preserve a healthier home for generations to come. How about you?