Lately, I have become keenly aware of the changing face of this city. There is more green space than I can ever remember, trees seem to line street after street, bike paths are popping up constantly and litter is hard to come by. We shop local, we love small, we collectively prefer experiences to things. Let’s face it-Cleveland truly is becoming a green city on a blue lake!
My husband and I recently enjoyed a leisurely trip to California. We drove nearly the entire coastline and saw every ounce of the possible landscape in that massive state. Although it varied tremendously from urban to agriculture to mountainous to coniferous…there was one consistency…it was profoundly dry.
This led me to the realization that as Clevelanders we are missing one piece to the green puzzle…water. Given that we happen to have a huge portion of the Earth’s usable fresh water right in our own backyard, I can see why we take this valuable commodity for granted. But, that has to change. I am certain we will not be facing the same situation as our Western constituents but, there are plenty of reasons to conserve water, even in our land of plenty.
First, as a sign of solidarity, it just doesn’t feel right to let my faucet run with reckless abandon while our fellow citizens are fighting for every drop. Second, processing water requires energy. Getting it from the lake to the treatment plant and finally to your home creates a carbon footprint that we should attempt to minimize. Finally, saving water drives down the cost. Not only does the process of getting water to you tap use energy but, it cost money and we are the ones paying for it. If we use less, we pay less, it is that simple.
Conserving water is so easy; there are a ton of tiny steps you can take that add up to huge savings. You do not have to be a superhero or a hippie environmentalist…just a conscious consumer who cares about the future of this city.
Turn the faucet off while you brush your teeth.
- Take a shower instead of a bath.
- Shower with a bucket; use the runoff water for your plants.
- Install low flow showerheads in all of your bathrooms.
- Aerate your lawn to allow for optimal absorption of rain.
- Plant a native garden of plants adapted to our climate to eliminate watering all together.
- Wash your car on the grass so that your lawn enjoys the benefits of the runoff and spray.
- Water your plants with a sprinkler rather than a hose saving up to 140 gallons per hour.
- Mulch your plants. Mulch operates as a moisture barrier for your plants, as in it keeps moisture in the soil where your plants need it most.
- Do not hand wash your dishes, use a dishwasher. Hand washing dishes can use up to 27 gallons for a dishwasher-size load. Let the machine do the work and that usage is cut to 3 gallons! Make sure you only run full loads to get the biggest bang for your buck.
- Scrape your dishes instead of rinsing or pre-washing them. Newer dishwashers come equipped with the ability to adjust their work level based on the amount of detected debris. If the dishes are super clean already not only have you wasted water getting them that way but your machine is now running a load the same amount of time but, not working as hard.
- Turn the shower off while you shave your legs.
- Test toilets and other plumbing for internal leaks. Even the tiniest drip can add up to a tremendous amount of wasted water over time.
- Cover your pool and spa when not in use to minimize evaporation.
- Purchase appliances equipped with a “water sense” label.
- Use a water cooler or filter equipped with an instant cold or instant hot water spigot. This will eliminate the need to let your faucet run to reach these temperatures.
- Reuse water from cooking vegetables and/ or pasta on your plants and/ or garden.
- Minimize the use of your garbage disposal, they create additional work for your wastewater treatment plant and use a lot of h2o in the process. Compost your scraps instead.
- Use a broom, not a hose to clean your garage floor, driveway, and sidewalks.
- Install water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.
- Dump unused ice cubes on your plants or garden.
- Utilize commercial car washes. They can get your car squeaky clean for nearly 100 fewer gallons of water than you can by hand.
Even if you implement one or two of these habits, you are well on our way to conserving our world’s greatest resource. After all, we can’t survive without it, maybe we should start treating it as such.