Will Water be the New Oil?

By Shel Horowitz, painlessgreenbook.com (666 words)

In the year 2050, I predict that there won’t be an oil crisis anymore. The world will have largely moved away from fossil and biomass fuels, in favor of sustainable, renewable, and clean energy solutions such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal.

But if we don’t shift our behavior, what our grandchildren will be facing could be far, far worse: a water crisis.

As a society, we don’t just waste water—we squander it. Billions of gallons of good fresh water go tumbling down our pipes and sewers, gone forever. And when our children’s children struggle to find enough clean water to live, they will be pretty angry at our generation for letting it get so bad.

See, unlike fossil fuels, which can easily be replaced by safer, cleaner, sustainable alternatives, there is no substitute for water. We can protect our water supplies by keeping them clean, we can make them last longer by using less. But we need water to live. When we’re born, our bodies are 78 percent water. As adults, 55 to 60 percent of our bodies is water, and some of the most important parts of us use even more: 70 percent of our brains, 83 percent of our blood, and nearly 90 percent of our lungs.[1]

And while much water use goes to agricultural and industrial processes over which we as individuals have no control, the good news is that there are many easy free or cheap steps we can take to drastically reduce our home water waste and conserve this vital resource for future generations.

In fact, for many people, it’s probably easier to reduce water use in and around the home than any other resource—because so few people have even thought about it. A typical household can easily reduce water consumption by 50 to 80 percent, just by thinking differently.

Here are four easy no-cost steps among many every household can take:

Reduce Toothbrushing Water Waste by 90 Percent or More: Wet the toothbrush with a small trickle of water, and then turn the water off! Turn it back on to rinse the toothpaste off the brush at the end. A family of four could save hundreds of gallons every month just from this simple trick.

Switch from Bottled Water to Filtered Tap Water, if you live in a place where the tap water is good enough to drink (which it is in many parts of the world). Too often, bottled water is an environmental disaster! Bottling consumes petroleum and typically wastes or contaminates several times as much water as goes in the bottle—and bottling plants can draw down the local water supply, causing problems for agriculture and for local residents. Plus, the carbon footprint of transporting the water around the world is significant. For comparable flavor and health, use a simple, inexpensive home water filtering system, which will lower your costs and produce far less waste. For times you need a water bottle because you’re out and about, fill a reusable bottle or cup from your water filter—or invest in a reusable bottle with a built-in filter so you can fill up from unfiltered taps and fountains without worry.

Stop Temperature-Related Water Waste: Don’t let the water run until it gets cold enough. Fill a bottle and refrigerate it so you always have cold water with no waste.

Recapture and Reuse: When you have old water in your tea kettle, cooking pot, or reusable water bottle, use it to water plants, presoak dishes, etc., instead of dumping it down the drain.

These four simple tips are only the beginning. We can all save tens of thousands of gallons of water in our lifetimes by looking for ways to let the water run less often, and with less force.  You’ll find 28 different water-saving tips in my <a href=” http://painlessgreenbook.com”>e-book, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life-With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle</a>.

Shel Horowitz, shel at greenandprofitable.com, shows you how to “reach green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU.” He writes the Green And Profitable/Green and Practical columns and is the primary author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).

[1] http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html

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