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Water, Water, Everywhere

by Anca

We're made up of water for the most part, as is our Earth. We're told to drink eight glasses per day to stay healthy. We use it to cook, clean, swim in, you name it. But though it seems to be everywhere, it's a finite resource (at least fresh water is). I will not get into the importance of water conservation and saving the fishies and, by extension, should take a look at Philippe's blog next door for that (some great stuff in there, seriously). But I feel compelled to tell you about the health and environmental impacts of personal water use and what we can do to be good to ourselves and the planet:

Drink 8 glasses a day of filtered water: Yes, keep drinking that water, but not from a bottle or the tap. Why? It seems that there are no major differences between bottled and tap water aside from taste. The FDA, which regulates bottled water, is required to follow the same guidelines (at a minimum) as those set by the EPA, which regulates tap water. Check out this four-year study by the NRDC for some interesting info. Not to mention that the making of water bottles uses up 1.5 million barrels of crude oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 American cars. So, use a water filter instead. But before you run off to buy a Brita, you should be aware that not all water filters are created equal. There are a few third-party testing organizations that certify water filters, such as NSF International and WQA. You can search the sites for a particular model and get a list of models they have certified (Brita is not one of them). And to carry your filtered water, use a reusable container such as Klean Kanteen or SIGG, or buy a biodegradable bottle like Biota. If you're really curious about what's in your tap water, check out the National Tap Water Quality Database.

Go with the (low) flow: This includes showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and clothes washers. The average US household uses 260-550 gallons of water per day (depending on which study you look at). Installing low-volume or dual-flush toilets, aerators on your faucets, low-flow shower filters (1.2 gallons/minute or less), and water-efficient washers can save water and money.

Don't dawdle: Such an old-fashioned word for something that is mostly out of fashion now. Most of us are busy running from one activity to the next, so this may seem surprising, but in some instances, we take our time. One of those is when using water. Do you leave the water running when you brush your teeth or shave? What about when you're washing dishes? See, told you! It doesn't mean you have to hurry when doing these things, but don't let it run needlessly. If you're washing dishes by hand, fill up the sink with water. If you're using a dishwasher, make sure it is full before turning it on (and use a natural detergent!). And if you're brushing your teeth, turn off the tap!

Ready to make some changes? Here's a tool to help you and more ideas.