This blog was originally based on a course ran by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin who also wrote a textbook for the module Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. Now working as an independent consultant, Nick continues to work in the area of environmental sustainability and looking at ways of making a difference without recriminations or guilt. Saving the planet is all about living sustainably.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Turn off that tap!

Although the concept of water conservation seems a daunting and impossible task, as the Tesco motto states- “every little helps”. With fresh water supply contributing to only 3% of total global water resources, the idea of domestic water conservation by individuals can make a significant difference. And with the introduction of water charges in Ireland next year, never has there been a better time to use our water more wisely- especially since these charges could result in an annual household charge of €370 (euro). On a survey carried out by world water day, 9 out of 10 Irish people were oblivious to how much water they consume - extraordinarily this number has been estimated at over 150 litres a day. So how can one person expend so much?
Ponder these points:
·         One bath can use up to 50 litres of water
·         A toilet that is flushed 5-6 times a day uses 40 litres of water
·         8 litres of water is wasted each minute a tap is left on
·         A dishwasher uses around 18 litres of water per wash
·         A washing machine uses over 20 litres of water per wash

From the above findings, provided by
water use it wisely, it is apparent that everyday processes can cause this incredible accumulation of water wastage. As a result I decided to spend a day attempting to minimize my water usage to around 50 litres. Straight away I knew this task was going to be difficult and that I would have to utilise my water sensibly. To begin, I normally spend at least 6 minutes in the shower so I quickly realised if I was to stay within my limit I would have to face the day without my morning shower- a terrifying thought. Also I knew by flushing the toilet 5-6 times a day I would nearly reach my target so there would have to be great consideration into how to reduce this-much to my roommates despair. Here is my account of the day:
·         Breakfast- porridge made with a cup of water and tea = 0.2 litres
·         Drinking water- 3 litres
·         Brushing teeth with tap off = 2 litres
·         Washing hands throughout the day = 2 litres
·         Flushing toilet 3 times (it was a challenge) = 24 litres
·         Dinner- boiled rice with grilled chicken = 1.2 litres
·         Dishwasher put on at end of day= 18 litres

Total consumption = 50.5 litres

While water conservation cannot happen without consideration, it is not an impossible task. I was successfully able to decrease my water usage to around 50 litres. Although this may not be feasible everyday (a shower is essential now and again, clothes need to be washed ect.), it shows that huge cut backs are possible. I found a few simple solutions can reduce water consumption particularly in individuals. By minimizing shower time to two or three minute (which none of us want to do) you can save up to 60 litres per shower. By installing water-efficient dual flush toilet you can reduce water use by 2 litres per flush (on a full flush) and by 4 litres per flush (on a reduced flush). Another aspect that I had not considered before this was turning off the tap while brushing your teeth- such a simple task that can limit water wastage to 2 litres a day. Granting that reducing water usage to less than 50 litres a day is a very hard task, there is still a lot to be said for the amount we can save- so come on… turn off that tap!

Shauna Quinn

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