The Water Crisis is Now – Ten Things You Can Do To Conserve WaterJanuary 19, 2012 – In 2010, the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) reported that more than one-third of U.S. counties face higher risks of water shortages by midcentury and more than 400 of these counties face extremely high risks. By 2050, demand for water will exceed supply, and fourteen states will face an extreme risk to water sustainability or will likely see limitations on water availability.(1) Today, it’s more important than ever that every individual does their part to reduce water consumption. Green Education Foundation (GEF) and American Standard have partnered to share important information and water saving strategies through a fun, interactive lesson for students and water conservation tips for children and adults.
Available for free in GEF’s Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse, the Efficient Water Technologies lesson asks students to examine how fixtures consume water and energy and how efficient technologies can be utilized in homes and schools to conserve the earth’s valuable resources. By exploring an online, interactive tool, students learn how fixtures work and compare them with their inefficient counterparts. Afterward, students determine which water-saving fixture would be most beneficial in reducing water use in their homes and in their school.
To participate in this lesson, simply visit the Clearinghouse and download the lesson guide and handout. Students will work in pairs to virtually tour different rooms in their school and homes to learn more about the fixtures. For example, by visiting the restroom students learn that older, inefficient faucets use 3.9 gallons of water per minute while a low-flow faucet uses only 1.5 gallons per minute. Curious students can click to learn more about efficient technologies. By clicking on low-flow faucet you see how a restrictor in the faucet pipe prevents excess water flow without effecting water pressure.
On developed continents such as North America and Europe, people consume between 50 and 90 gallons of water per day through direct and indirect channels.[ii] In addition to replacing old fixtures with more efficient models there are many ways people can change their behaviors to reduce their personal water consumption. Below are 10 strategies from GEF and American Standard that reduce daily water consumption through changes in behavior.
- Use less water - Be aware of how much water you waste as you wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash the car, or let the shower get warm, and take action to turn the water off as often as possible. If you use the toilet as a disposal for tissues, bugs, or dust start using a trash bin instead to eliminate excess flushing.
- Water grass at night or early morning to avoid evaporation - Watering your grass in the heat of the day allows the sun to evaporate much of the water before it’s absorbed into the soil, causing the need for more frequent watering. Watering grass in the evening or early morning before the sun rises achieves the same healthy lawn with less water.
- Replace old appliances and fixtures with products with the EPA WaterSense label - “The WaterSense label means that a product has been independently tested for water efficiency and performance so you can be sure your fixture will not only save water, but work well,” said Stephanie Thornton of EPA’s WaterSense program. “Over the past five years, WaterSense has helped Americans save 125 billion gallons of water and $2 billion in utility bills.”
- Replace old products with Energy Star products - It takes water to produce energy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that if one out of every 100 American homes was retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year and avoid adding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.[iii] Energy Star approves a range of products including lightbulbs, dishwashers, windows, computers, air conditioners, and even entire buildings. Learn more at www.energystar.gov/products.
- Test if you have leaks and fix them immediately - A leaky toilet - which may be silent and completely unnoticed - can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day. Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)[iv]
- Use native plants to landscape - Plants that are native to a region are able to better survive in that region naturally, without the need for extra water or fertilizer.
- Collect water indoors and outdoors - Setting up a rain barrel is an easy way to gather water for irrigation and other outdoor uses. Learn how to make your own or purchase one at http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/. You can also gather water for irrigation or cleaning by placing a bucket in the shower as you wait for it to warm up.
- Eat less meat - Pledge to participate in Meatless Mondays. The production of meat requires growing grains or grass pastures and watering the animals, as well as for processing, packaging, transporting, and more. Producing 1 pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons of water.[iv]
- Insulate your pipes - By wrapping your water pipes with insulation you keep the cold water colder and hot water hotter which reduces the time it takes to reach the desired temperature.
- Thaw food overnight or in a microwave - Avoid using hot water to thaw meats or other frozen foods.
GEF and American Standard have teamed up for the second year to pursue the companies’ shared values regarding water conservation and student empowerment. Over the course of the next year, the companies will work together to share strategies and tips encouraging homes, schools, and communities to conserve water and better understand the global water crisis.
In its effort to meet the sustainability education needs of educators nationwide, GEF offers online sustainability courses through the GEF Institute. Enrollment in the program’s foundations course, Sustainability Education Concepts and Teaching Methods, is available starting February 1 at www.GEFInstitute.org.
About Green Education Foundation (GEF)
GEF is a non-profit organization committed to creating a sustainable future through education. Sustainability Education provides educators with the real-world applied learning models that connect science, technology, and math education with the broader human concerns of environmental, economic, and social systems. GEF provides curriculum and resources to K-12 students and teachers worldwide with the goal of challenging youth to think holistically and critically about global environmental concerns and solutions. Visit www.greeneducationfoundation.org to register for free and to gain full access to GEF’s comprehensive library of standards-based lessons and activities. Learn more and get updates by following GEF on Twitter at www.twitter.com/greenedufdn and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greenedufoundation
About American Standard Brands
American Standard Brands is a leading North American manufacturer of a wide range of high-quality building products, including faucets, fixtures, furniture, vitreous china fixtures, cast iron sinks, whirlpool tubs and other wellness products for the bath and kitchen as well as decorative panels. The company currently offers total project solutions for residential and commercial customers; employs more than 5,000 people in the United States, Canada and Mexico; and markets products under well known and respected brands, such as American Standard®, Jado®, Porcher®, Safety Tubs®, Crane®, Eljer®, Fiat® and Decorative Panels International®. American Standard Brands is an affiliated portfolio company of Sun Capital Partners. The company is online at www.americanstandard.com, on Twitter at twitter.com/amercanstandardand on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanStandardPlumbing.