Anyone who has seen a globe or a picture of Earth from outer space knows how much water there is covering the planet. But what many people do not realize is that less than one percent of all water on Earth is usuable freshwater. This tiny percentage is needed to sustain the seven billion humans and millions of other species that co-inhabit the planet.
According to National Geographic:"The average American lifestyle demands 1,800 gallons a day to support (sic), with 70 percent of that going to support our diets. If each of us learned how to conserve just a little more water, it could add up to big savings."
To remedy this, National Geographic gives this recommendation: "Recycling a pound of paper, less than the weight of your average newspaper, saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar's worth of paper." In fact, recycling just about anything uses less water than it would take to manufacture that same product.
For more water saving tips, click through the rest of this gallery.
(Photo: Don Farrall/Getty)
We've Got a Beef With Beef
Sometimes we enjoy a nice juicy steak. But when you get down to the facts, it's one of the most wasteful products around. According to National Geographic's "Hidden Water We Use" application, a mere pound of beef takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water to produce, more than triple the amount of water needed to produce a pound of either chicken or pork.
So the next time you're asked, how you like your steak, we hope you'll say "rarely."
(Photo: Brand X Pictures/Getty)
It's a Shower, Not a Spa
Long, hot showers are great...feeling...but are a huge waste of water. Home Water Works says that simply reducing a 10-minute shower to a five-minute one will save 12.5 gallons of water. And that's if you're already using a low-flow shower head!
H2O Conserve suggests bringing a radio into the bathroom while you're showering. After you're done, add up the songs to see how long your shower took. For major points, see if you can complete your shower in less than one song (using cold water helps a lot too).
It's a good idea to choose tap water over bottled water. Many people have been swayed by advertising to believe that bottled water is somehow safer than tap water. But according to National Geographic, what most people don't realize is that because tap water is a public utility, it is far more regulated than bottled water.
If that's not enough to convince you, think about the mountains of plastic water-bottle waste that accumulates each year and all of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere from transporting bottles from packaging facilities to the store and to your home.
(Photo: Steve Cole/Getty)
Another astonishing fact from the Hidden Water We Use application is that it takes over 700 gallons of water to produce the cotton necessary to make a single T-shirt. Go through your closet and you'll realize how quickly that adds up.
So the next time you go shopping, consider putting that third or fourth T-shirt back on the rack.
Use Some Sense
As long as you're out shopping, look for products with the WaterSense label. WaterSense is a branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is committed to helping consumers identify which products are manufactured in a water-efficient manner.
You can find certified products before you head to the store by using the WaterSense product search.
(Photo: US EPA)
Sign the Water Bill of Rights
Safe, clean drinking water is not a privilege, it's a right. Add your name to the list of people supporting the Water Bill of Rights and send a message to your elected representatives stating that Americans consider water quality and quantity a priority issue.
For some reason, suburban folklore has convinced many people that it is necessary to rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. In reality, this is a total waste. According the to the National Resources Defense Council, pre-rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher can easily waste up to 20 gallons of water.
If there is still food on your plate after you have finished eating, simply scrape the excess into the garbage before placing the dish in the dishwasher.
If you don't think your dishwasher can handle it, think again. Even the dishwashing manufacturers recommend against pre-rinsing.
(Photo: Adrian Samson/Getty)
Xeriscaping is a fancy word for landscaping with plants that require little to no supplemental irrigation.
The fact is, the idyllic Kentucky bluegrass lawn, symbolic of the American suburb, cannot be naturally sustained in most parts of the world. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, up to 70 percent of residential water is used for landscaping.
The expression "knowledge is power" applies to many situations, and water conservation is no exception. In order to begin your quest toward water efficiency, you first need to know which aspects of your day-to-day life to improve.