20. Save some water: Simple ideas to reduce your water use and bills

Although water is a precious commodity we mostly take it for granted.  In this video we look at how we can use water a little more wisely and cut down on our water bills.

Water footprint is less appreciated than carbon footprint

Using less water is a simple way to save money and improve the environment. This is day 20 of the 30 days to shrink your footprint, and in today’s video, I’m going to look at three simple tips you can use to save some water. But first up, we’re going to take a look at where the world’s freshwater goes. Unlike most other commodities, the consumption of water isn’t always dominated by richer countries, which you can see clearly in this global water footprint map. This is because agriculture dominates water use. It’s responsible for around 70 percent of freshwater extraction and over 90 percent of final consumption of fresh water.

If you’re looking at the bigger picture, saving water isn’t just about how you use water in and around your home— it’s also about the food that you eat, and the food that you waste. Here are three tips: The amount of water that’s used to produce the food that you eat and waste is colossal. The easiest way to reduce the water print of the food that you eat is to waste less food, and to eat fewer animal products. Most animal products need over three tons of water just to produce a single kilogram of food. So stock up on plant-based foods, which typically need just a few hundred kilograms.

The average American home uses a little less than half of its water indoors. But if you don’t have a garden, then indoors is where you’re going to make your water savings. The big uses of water in the typical home are the toilets, washing machines, showers, faucets, and leaks. When I was preparing this video series, I crowd-sourced some suggestions from our email subscribers, and these were the favorite five: fixing leaks around the house, using the economy setting on your toilet flush, making sure you always fill the washing machine, taking shorter showers, and my personal favorite, the old school brick in the toilet system. There are lots of clever ways to save water in your garden, but I’m just going to cover two ideas that I think are really simple and effective.

The first tip is to not water when it’s really hot. If you water during hot weather, you can lose up to 50 percent of the water to evaporation. So if you’re going to water your garden, do it later in the day when it’s cooler. Another tip is to collect rainwater. If you have a downspout coming from your roof, you can buy a water bucket to collect the water. Then you can use the rainwater to water your garden.

These things are quite cheap and the payback can be a matter of months rather than years because it’s a really easy way to collect a significant amount of water. Use it around the garden all you need to do is make a simple cut in your downpipe and then attach the collector and your water butt. We’ll probably fill up each time it rains. Good luck with your water saving and make sure you catch us tomorrow for day 21. We’ll be uncluttering a room!

1: Introducing the Shrink

2: Eat plants for a day
3: Shuffle your food
4: Start a vegetable garden
5: Build a compost heap
6: Make a seasonal meal 

7: Take a purposeless walk
8: Cycle somewhere new
9: Let someone else drive
10: Improve your fuel economy
11: Research your motor
12: Plan a flightless holiday

13: Turn off your gadgets
14: Change a light bulb
15: Seal an air leak 
16: Control your heating
17: Control your cooling
18: Research your intensity
19: Research solar power
20: Save some water

21: Declutter a room
22: Upcycle some junk
23: Choose a used product
24: Invest in good design
25: Recycle some waste

26: Pay a person
27: Buy a quality offset
28: Plant a tree that sucks
29: Plant flowers for bees 
30: Support broader change 

Lindsay Wilson
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I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.