Water Wisdom: 10 Simple Ways to Save Water

Sometimes the big problems affecting the environment seem overwhelming and removed from our daily lives. Take something as basic as access to clean water, for example.

Over 1 billion people (1 in 6 of us) don't have safe drinking water. In many developing countries, women and children walk for hours to collect water and carry it home. Often that means children can't go to school and women can't work, which helps perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

Even here in the US, there have been increased water shortages and droughts in the Southeast, Southwest, and in California. So what can you and your family do to help?

Here are 10 simple things you can do, right in your own backyard.

1) Plant native and drought-tolerant grasses, plants, shrubs and trees. They'll require less water and will survive even in the dry periods.

2) Apply mulch around flowers and bushes to retain moisture in the soil and reduce evaporation. This will also promote growth and control weeds (which compete with plants for water).

3) Soaker hoses are more efficient than other forms of watering — the water goes straight to the roots.

4) When you water, do it early in the morning to minimize evaporation. Remember that a heavy rain means you may not need to water for up to two weeks.

5) Avoid sprinklers that produce a fine mist — most of that evaporates before it hits the ground.

6) Make sure sprinklers do not spray water onto the pavement or driveway.

7) Rather than using a hose to clean the driveway, use a broom instead.

8) Consider if fertilizer is truly necessary. In addition to the strong chemicals it contains, fertilizer increases the need for water.

9) Collect rainwater from the roof into a tank. Assuming the tank and pipes are clean, that water would be pure enough to drink. At a minimum, it could be used for the garden.

10) If you wash your car, use a hose nozzle with a shut-off valve and a finer spray. Letting the hose run uses 180 gallons of water — 6 times more than the daily water consumption of an average household in India! Park on your lawn while you wash the car so the water can be reabsorbed into the ground.

Small changes matter, even when the problems seem overwhelming. And the best place to begin is your own backyard.

Want to learn more? Visit our website, blueplanetrun.org, register for our newsletter and get a free download of our book "Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World". In addition to watching our videos and reading success stories of our safe water projects, you can also find Eco-Citizen books (including some for kids and teens) that remind us all that small changes can make a big difference.

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