5 Off-the-Wall Ways to Save Water

Our freshwater supply is in crisis, but turning off the tap isn't the only way to help.

October 5, 2017
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You don't just drink and bathe in water. You wear it. Eat it. Catch your morning caffeine buzz off it. Sleep in it. And in his new book, The Green Blue Book: The Simple Water-Savings Guide to Everything in Your Life, Thomas M. Kostigen sets out to show how much water all the stuff in our lives really guzzles up. And how to make more water-conscious consumer choices every day. "We need to just start looking at the world through a blue prism," says Kostigen. 

More: 9 Laundry Tips for Cleaner Clothes, Lower Costs, and Fewer Headaches

Freshwater makes up less than 1 percent of the total volume of water on Earth. And that precious resource is quickly being not only wasted, but contaminated, too. In his book, Kostigen guides consumers into thinking about their choices in terms of water, and shows us where we're wasting it the most. For example, in the United States, 75 percent of residential water use goes to our lawns. The Green Blue Book is an easy-to-understand resource packed with hundreds of examples (from office supplies and flooring materials to fruit juices and travel options) that will help Americans—who typically use 656,000 gallons of water a year—make wiser choices for human and environmental health (after all, we all need clean water to survive).

More: 5 Toilet Tricks You Need to Know

Certainly, household water conservation measures, such as taking a Navy shower and installing low-flow faucets, go a long way in saving water. But Kostigen's book challenges us to think about protecting our water in a different way—by consuming less, and by pondering life-cycle water usage whenever we buy, whether it's food, building materials, clothing, or other stuff.

Here are five surprising ways to save water, courtesy of The Green Blue Book.

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1. On your dinner plate…

Cut back on beef, which requires more than 1,500 gallons of water per pound to produce, taking the entire life cycle of the product into account (from growing animal feed to processing the beef, and so forth). Instead, opt for cooking nutrient-packed dried beans, which average just 52 gallons of water per pound.

Do it: Try any of these 25 Vegetarian Recipes Even Meat Eaters Will Love.

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2. During happy hour…

For the most energy-conscious cocktail, choose beer (just under 20 gallons per eight-ounce glass) instead of red wine, which uses more than 30 gallons per four-ounce glass).

Do it: Follow this Simple Guide to Beer & Food Pairings to choose the best brew.

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3. In the morning…

It takes a whopping 37 gallons of water to produce one cup of coffee! If you cannot part with your morning caffeine fix, choose organic coffee, which takes less water to grow, and try drinking it black. Cutting a teaspoon of sugar and cream saves more than 10 gallons of water. For a much less water-intensive morning brew, choose tea sweetened with raw, local honey.

Do it: Make your first drink work for your diet too with this Morning Beverage That Will Jumpstart Your Weight Loss.

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4. From your pet's water paw print…

Bypass leather dog collars (a medium-size one uses 248.6 gallons to produce!), and instead choose a more water- and wallet-conscious type, a hemp collar (check out this one from Planet Dog).

As for dog food, it takes 460 gallons of H2O per pound of dry vegetarian food, versus a whopping 1,580 per pound of meaty canned food. As a general rule of thumb, dry pet food uses less water than wet, and you won't have the cans to deal with.

Do it: Opt for these 7 Essential Health & Healing Foods for Dogs to improve your pup's health, as well.

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5. On your body…

Need another reason to hit a consignment shop? Kostigen breaks it down to determine that it takes nearly 2,250 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make just one pair of jeans, another 165 gallons to dilute the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow it. On top of that, hundreds more gallons are used to treat, dye, bleach, and finish the fabric. Going naked is probably not an option, but buying used clothing when you can, and keeping your clothes until they wear out, instead of replacing them according to the whims of fashion, will reduce the water cost it takes to clothe you.

Do it: Follow these rules on How to Thrift Like a Pro to scout out the best treasures. 

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