How to save water

How to save water

August 16, 2019

How to save water

Water is an increasingly precious commodity. We must learn not to waste it in our daily lives and our choices of food.

We need safe and accessible water

1.4 billion km3 of the Earth's surface is water, but only a tiny proportion is drinkable: just under 45,000 km3 of water (0.003% of the total) is theoretically usable, the so-called “freshwater resources”. Actually, only 0.001% of the total is available for use by humans, based on sufficient quality but more importantly on accessibility, including in terms of cost. In addition, freshwater is not evenly distributed across the continents: 64.4% of the world's water resources are located in only 13 countries. Leading the way is Brazil, with 15%, followed by Russia (8.2%), Canada (6%), the United States (5.6%), Indonesia (5.2%) and China (5.1%). 

What can we do to save water? 

Current demand for water, which is already very high, can only continue to grow in the future. Despite dealing with this issue already being on the agenda for governments and supranational organizations, more work is needed. Individual awareness is on the rise but translating that awareness into daily actions is a slow process. Awareness-raising interventions must direct individual behaviors not only towards a focus on avoiding waste, but also toward lifestyles more attentive to the conscious use of water: that is, toward the use of goods and services that use less water, those with a lower ‘water footprint’.

Here's some practical advice.

1. Fix leaking faucets: investing a few euros can save tens of thousands of liters of water per year. It is important to turn off the faucet if you don't need it on, for example when washing your hands. Also use a flow regulator, for water savings of up to 50%.

2. Limit the amount of water used to flush the toilet, by installing a dual flush for two different volumes of water or a lever to regulate the flow and avoid waste. 

3. Use washing machines and dishwashers with a high energy efficiency class, and only on full load, for estimated savings of 10,000 liters per family per year. 

4. Favor a shower (a short one, of around 5 minutes) over a bath, to save about 23 m3 of water per year. 

5. For those with no dishwasher, wash the dishes by double dipping: instead of running the water, fill half the sink with hot, soapy water to wash and the other half with cold clean water to rinse. If you have a single bowl sink, you can use basins to do the same.

6. In the garden, prefer a drip sprinkler to a hose and use them during the cooler hours in the morning and after sunset. Another idea is to collect rainwater and then use it to water plants and flowers, or recycle the water used to rinse fruit and vegetables in the kitchen.

7. Do not wash the car too often, and when you do, use a bucket, not running water.

8. When you go on holiday, turn off the stopcock, which can also help to avoid nasty surprises after burst pipes. 

Personal water footprint: can we reduce it?

The UN has set the minimum amount of freshwater per person for basic hygiene at 20 liters per person per day (in developed countries, we use an average of 150-175 liters of water per day). These figures refer to so-called ‘real’ water, as used for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning or watering the garden. However, this represents only a small proportion of the personal water footprint

In fact, the food we put on the table is full of ‘invisible’ water, used to produce the food and bring it to the consumer. That's how everyday behaviors and food choices can make a difference in terms of water footprint and water savings. Eating habits therefore play a vital role. 

With exactly this in mind, BCFN has developed the Double Pyramid concept, which clearly shows that the foods recommended by dieticians are those with a lower environmental impact

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