Just turn off the tap

The average American uses up to 100 gallons of water each day. Photo courtesy of Pixabay user Semevent.

Drip, drip, drop.

It was a quiet Saturday morning. I had just walked into the McDaniel Hall bathroom when I heard this noise. I may not have been fully awake yet, but I looked around to find the source, and I saw that the faucet was on. I thought to myself, “How long has it been like this? It’s eight o’clock in the morning. Has it been on all night?” So, I shut it off, thinking, “Well, let’s not waste more water.”

I come back a half an hour later to brush my teeth and another girl enters the bathroom, flips the faucet, and goes into a stall. I think it’s weird, but I continue to brush my teeth. The girl comes back to the sink – water still running – and uncaps her tooth brush and begins to brush her teeth.

She doesn’t turn the tap off. Why would she? She’s left it on for almost two minutes now, going completely unused. So, I continue my morning routine all while the faucet is running. At this point I am thinking, “How long will it run? Can you just turn it off? You’re wasting so much water!”

This encounter got me thinking about water. How much water there is in the world, how much water we use, ways we can try to use water more efficiently, and so on.

The Earth’s surface is 71 percent water. The human body is 60 percent water. There are 4 trillion cubic meters of fresh water used globally each year. Now, those are some big numbers. The average American uses 80 – 100 gallons a day. According to Home Water Works, we use 17.2 gallons for one shower that lasts for 8.2 minutes at an average flow rate of 2.1 gallons a minute.

Okay – so you get it, a lot of water is used everyday and it is a vital part of our lives. But did you know cutting three to five minutes from your shower time can save thousands of gallons of water a year? Or that by just turning off the faucet or shower while brushing your teeth and shaving, the EPA estimates that you can save eight to ten gallons of water a day, totaling in 5,700 gallons a year?

You might be thinking, “Well, what’s a few gallons of water every year? Why do I need to change my water use patterns?” The answer is that you, one of the 7.5 billion people of this earth, can make a difference one gallon at a time. According the EPA, 40 out of 50 state water managers expect water shortages within the next decade.

So, I challenge you, McDaniel: become aware of your water use and reduce the amount of water you use daily. Becoming conscious of the amount of water you use daily is the first step in making a change. Once your foot is through the door, you can start to reduce the number of gallons of water you use.

One step toward reduction is installing water efficient fixtures and appliances. The installation of these types of products not only lessens water waste by almost 2,700 gallons a year, but also helps save electricity and cuts electric bills by up to $250.

Another step is to simply turn of the tap. When brushing your teeth, only turn the faucet on to wet your toothbrush and to clean it off. During your shower, turn off the water when shaving or not rinsing. When washing the dishes, only have the tap on once you have washed all the dishes and are ready to rinse them off.

These simple ways to save water are also ways to battle the global warming and climate change that is all around us. As a real threat that we will face in the near future, we should be taking every precaution to protect our planet. So will you accept the challenge?

Will you be proactive and fight to make a change? Or sit idly back and wait until it is too late?