As we all know, California is in a statewide drought emergency, and we’re all very aware of the need to conserve water. My husband and I have always been very conscious about our water usage, and we thought we were doing pretty well… until we saw last month’s water bill. While we were still well below the average user, we consume 150 gallons of water. PER DAY. I think that is totally insane, but after we looked it up, the average California household uses 360 gallons a day. Needless to say, I was shocked.
I started to look into other ways to further decrease our water consumption, and found some tips that don’t cramp our lifestyle while still making a serious dent. Here’s what we’re doing now:
Use your dishwasher. Yup. I checked, and it uses about 1/8 of the water that handwashing does. We don’t rinse them ahead of time either – we just throw them straight in. Need I say more?
Warm up your water in a bucket. An easy tip thanks to my dad. We now keep a bucket in our shower to warm up water. Then, we use that water to water the fruit trees in our yard. Takes almost no effort at all!
Use bar soap. Liquid soap is highly concentrated, so not only do you use less soap, but you use less water to rinse it off. You’ll also notice that you won’t have as much soap scum everywhere, so your sink and shower look much cleaner.
If you can’t live without liquid soap, get a foam dispenser. I totally understand the desire to use soap pumps over bar soap. If you’ve ever watered down liquid soap though, it’s sad. The foam dispenser gives you that clean sudsy feeling, while still diluting the soap. Once you start using a foam dispenser or a bar, you’ll start to notice how much water you waste when rinsing your hands of regular liquid soap. I have a quart of Dr. Bronner’s that I’ve been going through the past three years, so you’ll also save money!
Keep a cup by the sink. Use a cup to rinse out your mouth and your toothbrush as opposed to running water. After reading this article which outlines household use by appliance type, it turns out a large percentage of water usage is due to running the faucet. Using a cup will ensure that you’re conscious of how much water you’re actually using when brushing your teeth.
Cut down on watering your lawn. It will live. The first year Jesse and I did this, we were convinced that we killed our lawn. It turns out that it just goes dormant. That upcoming winter, it was green again. (We’d like to actually take out our front lawn, but I understand how difficult that actually is in practice. Maybe next year!)
Don’t wash your hair everyday. This was something I couldn’t do until about two years ago. I know my friends with curly hair do this, but my straight hair built up waaayyyy too much oil and looked gross. I switched to a natural shampoo, and I can go about three days without a wash, and my hair actually looks nice… and I can style it! It took a while to find the right shampoo, so be patient (I like the JR Liggett’s Bar Shampoo or Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon). AND, you can use a foaming soap pump to dilute that as well – it really helps cut down on rinsing your hair.
Get a handheld shower head. I find that I take showers faster this way, and it’s much easier to avoid my head when I’m not shampooing. I also like fact that it makes it easier to bathe Barney (which, we’ve also cut down on, mostly because he hates it). Lastly, it helps in keeping your shower clean – if you rinse the walls quickly after the last person takes a shower and squeegee any glass, you never have to clean it otherwise!
Be creative. I understand why people gripe about the ALS challenge, but at the same time, I enjoy the fun people are having in participating in it. If you don’t like it though, find a different way to join in on the fun! Sarah and Vinnie, my favorite Bay Area radio hosts, did a spin on it by passing around a bucket at work and then “bathing” in the $400 they were able to collect. I think that that kind of spirit is what’s going to get us through this crisis.
If you have any tips, feel free to share. I know all our work is going to really make a difference for not only the future of our state but in educating non-Californians to be aware of their water usage before they have a crisis too!