Hell yes, summer is approaching. Now is the time for barbeques, pool parties, drinks on the stoop, and enjoying the glory of being out on a summer night. But you might want to think twice before going nuts with the slip n slide this year. According to a US Government Accountability Office study conducted in 2014, 40 out of 50 states will experience water shortages by the year 2024.
In order to address climate change and use energy more efficiently, it's crucial that each of us reduce our water footprint—and there's no better time to start than the present. Don't worry, you don't have to drain your pool. There are plenty of practical ways to conserve water, while still having plenty of summer fun.
5. Let Your Lawn Suffer a Little
Keeping your lawn looking gorgeous during the summer takes a toll on your water bill—and the environment. Lawn irrigation and maintenance accounts for an average of 30 percent of total household water use, but in dry or desert regions it can climb to 60 percent. Cutting back on the frequency with which you water your lawn during the summer months can significantly reduce your water footprint. Better yet, throw the sprinkler away entirely—and wait for the rainy season to start up again. Additionally, up to 50 percent of water used outside is lost due to poor irrigation systems. It's worth having a professional come out to look at your system and make sure it's as sustainable as possible.
4. Head to the Car Wash
The sexy swimwear car wash has been a music video staple for decades. But this summer, you might want to consider putting away the bathing suit and trying some other auto cleaning options. The average at-home, DIY car washing uses approximately 100 gallons of water on average, while your local automatic or professional car wash uses about 15-60 gallons (and some even recycle their water).
3. Cover Your Pool
It wouldn't be summer, without at least one pool party. And if you happen to own a pool, you can be sure that your friends will be clamoring for invites. But did you know that the average pool uses approximately 18,000 gallons of water? This is why it's important to make sure you're not constantly refilling your pool. Be sure to check your pool for leaks (which is easier than you think), and always make sure to cover it between uses. An uncovered pool can lose up to 1,000 gallons per month—but covering it can save up to 50 percent of that water.
2. Cut Back on Those BBQ Burgers
A barbeque is the one event that no summer would be complete without. But before you head back to the grill for that second burger, take a moment to consider this: a single pound of beef takes an average of 1,800 gallons of water to produce. Beef has the highest water footprint of all meat, thanks largely to the massive amounts of water required to grow the corn and grain that conventionally raised "factory farm" cattle eat. Comparatively, the average pound of tofu only takes 303 gallons of water to produce. But if the thought of a veggie burger BBQ bums you out, not to worry. It is still possible to eat beef, and reduce your water footprint. For one, simply cutting back on the amount of beef in your diet is a great start. Sustainable beef, raised on free-range farms, also has a lower water footprint, because cattle are able to naturally forage for food (as opposed to eating manufactured grain and corn). So don't worry—there's no need to cancel the BBQ this year, just be a little smarter about the food you're serving.
1. Make Sure Your Water Appliances Are 'Low Flow"
One of the best ways to save water year-round, is ensuring that all your water appliances and fixtures are "low-flow" or water efficient. Look for the Environmental Protection Agency's "WaterSense" seal of approval on any shower head, faucet or toilet you purchase for your home. If you rent, check with your landlord to ensure your fixtures are water efficient. It's possible to save up to 13,000 gallons of water a year, if you switch to EPA approved appliances. While you're at it, also make sure to check all your water fixtures for leaks. The average family wastes up to 9,400 gallons of water per year, just on leaks alone.
So where do you start with your personal summer water cutback? In the end, reducing your water footprint is going to look different for every person— we all have particular needs and uses for water. But a great place to start is the Water Calculator from GRACE Communications Group, a national non-profit devoted to promoting sustainability within water, food and energy systems. By assessing your unique water footprint, You can assess your unique water footprint to scale your water usage and determine where to make cuts. It's easier than you think, and if we all put just a little more thought into how we use water—our country can be on the road to a fantastic, sustainable summer.