In Canada, we are blessed with an abundance of water. It would be nice to think that we are good stewards of this precious resource, particularly in the face of global warming and water scarcity throughout the world. But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Consider these stats:
- According to Environment Canada, between 1972 and 1996, Canada's rate of water withdrawals increased by almost 90 per cent, from 24 billion m3/yr (cubic metres per year) to 45 billion m3/yr. But, our population increased by only 33.6% over the same period.
- Canada’s freshwater withdrawals were 1,131 cubic metres per capita in 2007—nine times more than in Denmark, the best performer, and double the 16-country average. Canada ranks second to last on this indicator and earns a “C” grade. Only the U.S. has higher water withdrawals—1,632 cubic metres per capita.
Water is central to our health, survival, the environment and our economy. We all need to do our part to help conserve water. Here are eight tips that are easy, affordable and everyone can do!
1. Switch to a Low-Flow Showerhead
If you are using an older model showerhead, your shower could be using up to 20 litres of water per minute. For a 10-minute shower, this means you are using 200 litres of water!! As well, reduce your daily shower by two minutes – you’ll still be fresh and clean but save up to 24 litres of water.
2. Sweep It, Don’t Spray It
Instead of hosing down your driveway or walkway, get out a broom and sweep off your deck, sidewalk, driveway and pathways.
3. Turn It Off or Plug It In
When brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, turn off the water rather than leaving it running. When you leave the tap running it wastes six litres per minute, so turning the tap off when brushing your teeth can save around 12-18 litres per time.
4. Don’t Flush It Away!
On average, we use about 100 litres of water a day just flushing the toilet. If a toilet that continues to run after flushing, it can waste 200,000 litres of water in a single year. That’s enough water to fill a large in-ground swimming pool! If you can, replace your water-guzzling standard toilet with a new high-efficiency model. Can’t afford to change it out just yet? Get an empty 1-litre water bottle, take the label off, partially fill it with rocks or sand, and top up with water. Place this inside your toilet tank away from any moving parts.
5. Love Your Veggies More
One of the many reasons I became a vegan had to do with the mind-boggling amount of water used in meat production. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Foundation, it takes nearly 10 times as much water to produce a kilogram of beef as it does to produce the same amount of wheat. Adopting a diet rich in vegetables and grains could conserve as much as 2,000 litres of water a day.
6. Waste Not, Want Not
Did you know that Canadians waste approximately 40 per cent of our food every year – or about $27 BILLION worth. It takes huge amounts of water to both grow the food as well as in the manufacturing of the food and packaging. I couldn’t find any Canadian statistics, but in the US “the amount of water lost from food waste is like pouring 40 trillion litres of water down the drain.” So plan your meals, cook smaller portions, and get creative when it comes to using leftover food.
7. Create a Greener Garden
Municipalities across Canada report that water usage doubles over the summer, and one of the main culprits is lawn watering. Instead of watering lightly several times a week, water your lawn heavily one time, preferably early in the morning. This encourages a better root system and saves water. In your garden, using compost and mulch helps to add and retain water within the soil. Consider adding a rain barrel to capture storm water for watering the both your garden and your lawn.
8. Support Your Local Farmers
As Ottawans, we are lucky to surrounded by lots of farms. Smaller-scale producers are more likely to opt for sustainable food production processes. Visit the farmer’s market, ask questions and get to know the people behind the products.
What are your best water conservation tips? Let us know, and we may tweet a few!