Depending on where you live, turning on the shower or water from the tap might not give you pause.
But all over the world, people struggle to find access to clean water. In fact, nearly 1 billion people don't have access to safe drinking water. That means that every time you go to the sink or sip some H2O, you could be preserving or wasting water that could otherwise find its way to people who need it more.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Colgate ran a commercial promoting a simple way to preserve water twice a day: by turning the faucet off when you brush your teeth. It's just one of several ways you can preserve water without interfering with your day-to-day routine.
From California to Flint, Michigan to Indonesia and India, communities face serious droughts and water contamination issues all the time. What you do with your water matters, and March 22nd — World Water Day — is a great time to start conservation efforts. Remember: it doesn't just help those in need.
Water conservation practices actually save you money and time, too.
1. Use one water glass a day.
Or just buy a water bottle that you refill. That will stop you from washing extra dishes that you don't need to wash, or buying loads of bottled water you don't need to buy.
2. Eat less meat.
It requires 1,847 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, according to the Institute For Water Education. It only takes 845 gallons of water to produce a pound of chicken. On the other hand, tofu, rice, potatoes, and almost all other fruits and vegetables use less than 300 gallons of water per pound of food to make.
3. Get a new shower head.
Your standard shower head wastes loads of water. You can go sleek and futuristic with the Nebia shower head, lauded for its savings (183,960 drinking glasses of water a year could be saved in an average New York City apartment) and unique shower experience. Or, you can keep an eye out for shower heads with the "Water Sense" label that indicates they've been designed to help maximize water conservation.
Can't afford a new shower head? That's fine. Just take shorter showers (less than five minutes is recommended). It doesn't just save water and energy from the heating bill, but it's probably better for your skin, too.
4. Don't bag your grass when you mow the lawn.
Leaving grass clippings in your yard doesn't just feed the new grass growing in, it saves water as the layer of grass clippings cools the ground and holds moisture. You can also save money by watering your lawn in the early mornings or at night when the sun won't just evaporate the water immediately. Want to take it one step further? Replace grass with decorative rock gardens that don't require water.
5. Washing dishes? Don't leave the water running.
Instead, fill one basin with hot soap water and the other with rinse water. Use it to wash the dishes until you need to swap it out for new clean water. If you have a dishwasher: use it. They are much more efficient at washing dishes than most people are at washing by hand.
6. Be more conscious when doing laundry.
If it's a small load, make sure you choose a water setting that uses less water. If you're washing colored clothes, use the cold setting to save on heated water. If you're in the market for a new washing machine, check out the Energy Star washing machine models. Pro tip: washing machines made before 2003 are far less efficient.
7. Save that cooking water!
If you boil water for things like pasta or coffee, don't just dump it down the drain when you're done. Let it cool and use it to rinse dishes or water the plants.
8. Drop a brick in your toilet.
That's right: this ecologically safe product called Drop-A-Brick has become popular in California, a state that has experienced some of the worst droughts in the United States. If every Californian put this water-displacing brick in the back of their toilet, the state would save 67 million gallons of water a day.
9. Keep an eye on your bills in case of a leak.
Often times, homes and apartments have leaks that people are unaware of. The easiest way to spot one is in the water bill, where you might see a significant increase in cost in one month compared to another. But you should also keep an eye out for spots in the ceiling or walls. Another telltale sign? Moisture on the pipes underneath your sink or behind your toilet.