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10 Painless Ways to Save Water—and the Planet

Did you know that less than 1 percent of the planet’s fresh water is considered usable for humans? Or that most of the water on Earth today is the same water that sat here a million years ago? Or that each American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day? Makes you look at that glass of H2O a little differently, doesn’t it? Conserving water is important for the environment and your household budget: Here’s how everyone in your family can help ensure the next generations can keep sipping safely.

1. Turn Off the Faucet

Guess where the consumption of water in your household is highest? The bathroom. To save water, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth and washing your hands, and make sure the drain stopper is up before running a bath. Also, consider bathing in a partially filled tub—more room for bubbles!

2. Rethink the Sprinkler as a Toy

Lawn sprinklers may be fun for playing on a hot summer day, but they use up lots of water. Instead of letting the kids run through them all afternoon, fill an inflatable wading pool or set a time limit for how long the sprinkler stays on.

3. Cut Down on Shower Time

Long showers may be an antidote for a tough day, but 10 minutes under a regular showerhead can use 42 gallons of water. To limit your water usage, aim to spend just a few minutes showering, and use a timer. Installing a water-efficient showerhead is another smart strategy; Delta’s showerheads with H2Okinetic Technology give you the feeling of more water, without using more water.

4. Go Eco with Your Household Purchases

Harmful chemicals in cleaning solutions can contaminate groundwater and sicken animals. Read labels to find products with natural ingredients (such as baking soda or vinegar), biodegradable shampoos and soaps, and rechargeable batteries (mercury from used batteries can contaminate water systems). And look for pesticides and fertilizers that won’t damage groundwater.

5. Don’t Use Your Toilet as a Garbage Can

Blow your nose, toss the tissue in the toilet, flush: You’ve just wasted 5 gallons of water. Use a wastebasket for anything not specifically meant to go in the toilet.

6. Get Smart About Washing Your Car

Running a hose during the time it takes to wash a car will waste as many as 150 gallons of water. Instead, use a bucket of soapy water for the actual washing and save your hose for the rinse. 

7. Watch What Flows Down the Drain

Don’t pour toxins like house paint and paint thinner into the sink. Unused medicine should be disposed of through a community take-back program. Or mix it with an undesirable substance (such as kitty litter or coffee grounds), seal it in a bag and put it in the trash.

8. Fix Those Leaks

The moment you spot a leaky faucet in your home or notice your toilet is running, do something about it. If you’re a DIY type, start with our video How to Fix a Dripping Faucet. Or call your plumber pronto. Leaks in U.S. homes waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water a year, the EPA estimates.

9. Limit Your Laundry

Instead of running several mini-loads during the week, wait until you have enough to fill the machine’s tub for the most efficient wash. And use your washer’s preset water level—small, medium or large.

10. Water Your Grass and Garden Early or Late

Sunup and sundown are the times when water is less likely to evaporate, and more likely to nourish your yard. And be sure you really soak the ground; serious watering encourages grass and plants to develop deep roots, which need less watering as they mature.