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This article is from the In-Depth Report Confronting a World Freshwater Crisis

Freshwater Conservation: Drip by Drip

water spigot



Credit: ultra.f/Corbis

Doing small things consistently over time—if enough people participate—can make a dent, even in a global problem. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Check your sinks, indoor and outdoor faucets, pipes, toilets, even your meter for leaks.
  • Run your high-efficiency (Energy Star) washing machine or dishwasher for full loads only.
  • Purchase a front-loading washing machine—it uses significantly less water than a top-loading machine—and purchase a dryer with a moisture sensor.
  • Install a dual-flush toilet (which uses less water for liquid waste) or a low-flow unit as well as a gray-water recycling system.
  • Use a low-flow showerhead and capture bathwater to water plants. And take shorter showers.
  • Water your lawn in the early morning or at night to avoid losses from evaporation and use mulch to trap moisture.
  • Consider installing a rain barrel for capturing storm water and using it to water the garden.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water rather than under a running faucet.
  • Start a compost pile rather than using an in-sink garbage disposal unit.
  • Use the refrigerator or microwave rather than hot water to thaw frozen food.
  • Instead of washing your car by hand, go to a professional car wash.
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