Aquatic conservation isn’t just water under the bridge

We’ve all been shown the repercussions our wasteful behaviors have on the environment through shocking statistics and devastating imagery. Deforestation, global warming, clean energy and pollution concerns have found a permanent spot in our society. Despite the ongoing effort to bring awareness to our environmental impact, many still cannot grasp just how much damage we’ve done to this planet.

When considering a greener planet, water is often ignored. Most of this water resides in the arctic glaciers and snowfields, and with the growing population, the demand for fresh water is skyrocketing. Water is considered to be a renewable resource, but like everything in this world, it has limitations. Caution must be taken to ensure the availability of fresh water and it must be consumed wisely.

Most of the water finds itself quenching crop fields and is heavily used for agricultural purpose. The second greatest purpose of water is for industrial purposes. Third is domestic consumption. So how does one observe the relationship between water impact and consumption? The water footprint was invented. Similar to the more popularly known carbon footprint, a water footprint indicates both direct and indirect water usage.

According to an article published on the Water Footprint Network, “Water scarcity affects over 2.7 billion people for at least one month each year, the water footprint of U.S. citizens is 2840 cubic meters per year per capita.” The United States has the second largest water footprint behind only China, but with only a fourth of the population China possesses.

Is this an example of a depleted aquatic ecosystem, or just deserts? (AP Photo)

Water is an essential component of all life; the scarcity of this vital resource has had detrimental effects on populations worldwide. Various countries around the world lack the benefit of a clean water source.

So how can you reduce your water consumption? It’s as easy as taking shorter showers, using tap water instead of bottled, and not letting the faucet run while brushing your teeth. The average American household wastes roughly 159 gallons per day, while in many foreign countries, households make do with 25 gallons per day or less.

Here are some easy ways to reduce your water footprint:

1. Install low-pressure showerheads: According to BioFriendly.com, “The standard shower head flows at roughly 4.5 gallons/min., compared to the low-flow option of 2.5 gallons/min. Changing your showerheads is fairly inexpensive ($5-$20) and can save up to 3,000 gallons per year.” Saving water also saves a lot of money on water bills, something worth thinking about, especially in this economy.

2. Fix leaky faucets: No one likes hearing that annoying dripping of a leaky faucet. Sink faucet leaks are actually more harmful than you think. A faucet that is left to leak one drip every second wastes about 3,000 gallons of water every year. If you have a leak in your house, don’t ignore it!

3. Eat less meat: What? You mean eating meat has a direct impact on my water footprint? Yes. In fact, the meat industry is on the forefront of having the highest water footprint of all. So swap out that hamburger for a salad or a soy burger!

4. Recycle: Virtually everything takes water to produce. Ninety percent of a water bottle’s cost accounts for the production of the bottle itself. In 2007, The New York Times reported that the average American would annualy spend almost $1,400 on bottled water per year alone. Recycling water bottles helps to ease the environmental stress placed on the environment.

5. Use less hot water: With summer just around the corner, there is almost no need for hot water anyway! Hot water is both more expensive and requires a large amount of water to execute. Opt to take a cold shower and wash clothes in cold water to save money and reduce environmental impact.

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