Hands cup water pouring from faucet into overflowing sink

The UN Water Conference takes place this week in New York City on World Water Day (March 22), bringing together leaders from around the world to discuss and address the critical issue of water scarcity. While those who have the means are tackling the water crisis on a global level, individuals can take action to conserve this precious resource in our daily lives.

The world is facing an impending water crisis, as global freshwater demand is projected to outstrip supply by 40% by the end of this decade (2030), according to a new study by the Global Commission on the Economics of Water. The conference comes at a time when access to clean water is becoming increasingly difficult for millions of people, with climate change exacerbating the problem by causing droughts, floods, and other water-related disasters.

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Saving Water in the Home

What can you do to help reduce wasted water? For starters, fixing leaky taps and pipes is an easy and effective way to conserve water and reduce your water bill. When washing dishes, only run the dishwasher on full loads. And if washing by hand, don’t leave the water running while rinsing. Shortening your shower time and turning off the water while you lather up, brush your teeth, or shave is another simple way to save water.

You can get water-efficient products, such as showerheads and aerators, that help you conserve water by restricting the flow of water from taps. Standard showerheads use around 2.5 gallons per minute, but those that use as little as 1.25 GPM are readily available. Upgrading to a water-saving toilet is also a great way to reduce water usage. Older models can use up to 7 gallons of water per flush, while newer high-efficiency toilets use 1.3 gallons per flush or less.

Saving Water in the Yard

In the garden, use a watering can instead of a hose to water your plants. If you do use a hose, get a water-efficient hose nozzle that restricts the flow of water. Water your plants early in the morning or late evening when the sun isn’t strongest so that the water doesn’t evaporate before seeping into the roots. You can also add water retention crystals to help the soil keep its moisture.

Sprinklers on lawns can use up as much water in one hour as a family of four uses in one day. To cut down on how much you water your lawn, let the grass grow longer during drier times because it keeps the moisture in the soil for longer. Soaking your lawn infrequently instead of on a regular sprinkler schedule encourages the grass to tap into water resources deeper in the ground. Better yet, let your lawn go gold, or even consider replacing your turfgrass with a sustainable alternative.

Collecting rainwater is another method to conserve water. Installing a rain barrel can save gallons of water, which can be used to water your garden or even flush your toilet. Additionally, using a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway, sidewalk, or patio can save water.

Help Spread the Word

But it’s not just individual actions that can make a difference. We can also support water-efficient businesses and industries, advocate for water conservation policies, and educate others about the importance of water conservation.

By Tokollo Matsabu

Tokollo is a sustainability advisor and writer based in Washington, D.C.