Conserving Water on the Farm and in the Home

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Did you know that 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water? Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But did you also know that only 2.5 percent of that water is fresh (doesn’t contain salt), and only 1 percent of that water is accessible to people?

Water is essential for leading a healthy, happy life, and there is only so much to go around. While we can’t stop using water, we can do more to use less of it. Let’s take a lesson from farmers who are employing a number of techniques to reduce their “water footprint” (how much water you use). In our daily routines, simple changes like turning off the water while you brush your teeth or shortening showers can make a world of difference. But we can do a lot in the kitchen to help reduce your footprint too.

1. Re-use cooking and cleaning water. Boiling pasta or washing lettuce? Keep the water and use it to water plants (let it cool first if it is hot). Boil eggs daily? Consider reusing the water a couple times before you throw it out.

2. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Instead of using gallons of water to wash a few plates and spoons, fill the dishwasher up to capacity before running it. Also, if your dishes aren’t that dirty, a light wash cycle is enough to get them clean. If you wash dishes by hand, fill up a container with warm, soapy water instead of letting the water run while you clean the dish.

3. Plan ahead. When you throw out food, you are wasting the water and resources used to produce it. By planning your meals and snacks, you can help reduce food waste and use water more sustainably. Buying frozen and canned foods are also a great way to help reduce food waste due to longer shelf life.

4. Let frozen produce thaw in the refrigerator. Have some frozen fruits or vegetables you need to use? Instead of running water over them, put them in the fridge for a couple of hours so that they can thaw without the use of H2O.

Let’s all celebrate World Water Day by first learning how large your water footprint is and how to reduce it!

This article was written by Kamilah Guiden and reviewed by Tamika Sims, PhD.