Water scarcity is an issue affecting the whole world, but it is especially prominent here in Australia. Australia has always been prone to droughts, however in recent years these have become more frequent and severe.
Earlier this year, almost all capital cities in Australia had water restrictions in place, limiting how you could use your water. Water scarcity is a major issue for us because, in addition to Australia being the driest inhabited continent, we have the highest water consumption of the world at 100 000L per person each year.
Agriculture is the biggest user of water at over 70 per cent of Australia’s water consumption. However, manufacturing and households also use large quantities of water. Australian households use 12 per cent of the total water with manufacturing using 11 per cent.
This means that simple changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference in the amount of water that is available to people who need it. Changes you can make include:
Using what you have
By using what you already own you are reducing the number of goods which need to be manufactured and raw materials produced. This, in turn, reduces the amount of water which is used.
By buying second-hand you are reducing the need for manufactured goods and giving items a new use. This is especially important for any textile goods, as materials such as cotton require a huge amount of water to produce. To make one cotton t-shirt, 2 700L of water is used.
Using shampoo and conditioner bars
Shampoo and conditioner bars are solid forms of your normal shampoo and conditioner. Not only do they reduce the water within the product, they reduce the water needed to produce the packaging. Additionally, these products normally come in compostable packaging or none at all. Similar products can also be found for moisturisers, face wash, dishwashing liquid and even shampoo for your furry friends.
Cutting out rinse cycles
By cutting out the extra rinse cycle in your washing machine or dishwasher, you can save water which could be used elsewhere.
Having shorter showers
By limiting the time spent in the shower, you can limit the amount of water you use.
Using your grey water
Grey water is wastewater from households, from either basins, showers, baths, washing machines and occasionally kitchens, and is perfectly safe for use of gardens. You can either install a grey water system or use a bucket. Just make sure you use environmentally friendly soaps and detergents, and look for products which contain low or no phosphates. GreySmart ratings are a good thing to look for when choosing these products.
Watering your garden early in the morning
Not only will this reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, but it is also said to reduce pests such as slugs.
Eating less meat
Eat less meat, especially beef, as it requires large quantities of water to produce. 515L of water is required to make 1kg of beef. Therefore, by implementing a day in the week where you will not eat any meat, you are lowering your water ‘footprint’.
Investing in water-conscious appliances
By investing in water-conscious appliances, you can be saving up to 70 per cent of the water used. Even using a front loader washing machine instead of a top loader can help save water. Additionally, many new appliances have eco systems designed to limit water use.
This is an Australian Government website dedicated to helping Australians is make their home more environmentally friendly. There are many tips to save water available here.
Calculate your water ‘footprint’
Most of the water used in the world in hidden away from society, so you may be using more water than you realise. Watercalculator.org can calculate your family’s water use, including hidden water found in items such as food and textiles.
Written by Amelie Cox (Year 10)
Footprint Project team member