According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 70.9 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. However, only three percent of the water found on Earth is fresh water and in turn suitable for human consumption and daily use. In addition, more than half of that measly three percent, is unattainable because it’s frozen in glaciers. That leaves a very small fraction, about 1.3 percent, of all the water on Earth to share between the entire global population. In order to ensure that our clean water sources don’t run dry, we need to make water conservation a daily priority.
The average American resident uses around 100 gallons of water each day. In Europe, the average person uses 50 gallons of water daily. In sub-Saharan Africa, residents use only two to five gallons of water on a daily basis. These numbers are not necessarily surprising considering the availability of water in the varying regions. However, an apparent abundance shouldn’t stop us from conserving this valuable resource.
A typical faucet dumps out around two gallons of water every minute. A simple way to conserve water is to turn the faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth, scrubbing your hands clean or washing your face. Similarly, conserve water in your kitchen by filling up the sink to wash your dishes rather than washing them under a constant stream of water.
Filling a bath tub requires up to 70 gallons of water, whereas a five minute shower uses around ten to 25 gallons. Sometimes we all need a hot bath, but limiting yourself to occasional soaks can save a considerable amount of water.
A running toilet can waste nearly 200 gallons in a single day and a faucet, dripping once every second, can waste 3,000 gallons of water over the course of a year. Check to make sure faucets are completely shut off and jiggle the handle on your toilet if you can hear it running. Then, if you can’t fix those bothersome leaks and drips yourself, call your local handyman.
More than 50 billion disposable plastic water bottles end up in landfills each year in the United States alone and a significant number of them are still full of water. Bottled water companies have strict quality assurance rules which result in wasted water during production and even after shipping. Purchasing a reusable water bottle and keeping it filled from your tap or home water filtration system is one of the best ways to conserve water and prevent unnecessary plastic waste.
Next time you notice the faucet flowing while your toothbrush is in your mouth, or you hear the toilet continually running, think about the meager 1.3 percent of usable water that all seven billion of us on Earth are sharing. Then turn off the faucet or give the toilet handle a quick jiggle.