One Green Thing: More about how to save on our precious resource–water

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

While here in the Midwest we are nearly without problems (so far), there are other parts of our country lacking water. It makes sense to save on this precious resource. Here is some “need to know” information.

Did you know the average faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute? That means a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons of water, and if you brush your teeth the suggested two minutes, that is 4 gallons down the drain (or 8 gallons if you brush twice as the dentist recommends)!

Worse…leaks waste nearly 14 percent of household water, according to estimates. Check your water meter when no one is using water in your home. If it is moving, there is a leak.

A running toilet can waste 2 gallons a MINUTE. To find out if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait 15 minutes. If you see color in the bowl, you could be leaking water (and nearly 20 percent of all toilets are!)

Always run full loads of laundry and dishes (and yes, use the dishwasher instead of washing by hand; it uses less water, and no wasteful pre-rinsing, please!)

Outdoors, mulching will reduce water evaporation around your plants (and reduce weeds and help build up healthy soil). Install a drip irrigation system. If you water by hose, buy a squeeze nozzle. Better yet, just fill a watering can (probably better for the plants, too). It is best if you water at night to minimize evaporation (or get up before dawn)!

Worldwatch Institute and Green Cross International are two international organizations working on international water shortage issues. Read up on xeriscape (water conservation concepts).

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

From the June 2-8, 2010 issue

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