Most of our indoor water use happens in our bathrooms: it’s estimated that 35% of our daily use comes from the bath and shower, 30% is from toilets, and 20% is from the laundry. The remaining 15% is from food preparation, drinking water, and cleaning.
- Opt for high-efficiency laundry washers
- Consider front loading washers that are certified low-energy and low-water, such as the Energy Star certification.
- Opt for shorter showers instead of a long shower or bath
- A 5-minute shower can use half the amount of water used to fill a tub.
- Install low-flow showerheads and tap aerators (Hydro-Quebec sells WaterSense kits that allow you to reduce water consumption by up to 40% without major appliance renovations.
Tap aerators and low-flow showerheads are easy to install and do not impact the quality of use. For example, tap aerators inject air bubbles into the water stream to reduce the actual amount of flow without changing the water pressure.)
- Repair leaky faucets. A faucet dripping at one drip per second can waste up to 27 litres of water per day.
- Refrigerate a pitcher of water instead of running the tap to get cold water
- Be mindful of running taps when washing dishes or brushing your teeth
- Add a “toilet brick” to the toilet tank. Adding a ‘toilet brick’, such as a filled jug, can save a few litres of water with every flush. Make sure that the placement of the jug does not interfere with any apparatuses in the tank to avoid problems.
If you are renovating:
- Choose low-flow and dual flush toilets. These types of toilets use substantially less water than traditional models.
- When replacing any appliance that uses water, purchase efficient appliances. Look for EnergyStar certifications.
- Ensure that your drains to the sewer systems are protected with backwater valves, which prevent backups from the sewer system into your house during times when the sewer systems are overloaded.
- Ensure that your connecting water pipes are not made of lead. Houses built before 1970 may have lead pipes. While the risk is assessed to be low, the city of Montreal is attempting to eliminate all lead water connection pipes by 2026. For more info, call 311 or consult Info-Sante.
Lifestyle and Other Useful Actions
Many things that we do or buy have hidden ‘water costs’. Small changes that don’t directly involve water may actually save a lot of water in the long term.
- Try Meatless Mondays. Different types of meats use different amounts of water during their production. Beef is the most water and feed-intensive meat, consuming as much as 15 415 litres of water per 1kg! Going meat-free for just one day a week can then save hundreds of thousands of litres of water every year (and help save money!). To compare: one egg uses 196 litres of water to produce, and a pound of bread (0.45kg) uses about 731L.
- Choose eco-friendly clothing and shop responsibly. The average t-shirt requires 2500L of water to produce, and a standard pair of jeans can use anywhere from 2000-6800L of water in its production. When you buy clothes, opt for water-friendly brands, and try to wear clothing through its full life cycle instead of simply a few times. Buy clothes designed to last a long time instead of poor-quality fast fashion garments if you can. If you don’t wear an item of clothing anymore but it’s still in good condition, give it to friends, thrift shops, or clothing donation centres instead of throwing it away. Consider the type of materials used in your clothing. Natural fibres do not release microplastics into the water supply when they are washed. If you are purchasing cotton garments, opt for sustainably grown cotton if you can.
- Choose biodegradable cleaning products. Non-biodegradable cleaning products such as soaps, detergents, shampoos, glass cleaners, and disinfectants, among others, are often washed down the drain. These go into the wastewater and can be released into the natural environment, where they can negatively affect wildlife, particularly frogs and fish, when they act as endocrine (hormone) disruptors and can be toxic.
- Avoid products using microplastics. Microbeads (plastic pieces smaller than 5mm) are banned in personal care products in Canada as of July 1, 2018 and are classified as toxic substances. They are difficult to filter from water supplies and are hard to remove from the natural environment.
- Avoid using single-use plastic water bottles. The manufacture of the bottles consumes water, and water bottles constitute an important source of pollution in shorelines and the ocean. Montreal’s tap water is very safe and reusable water bottles are a convenient option that is cheaper in the long run.
- Participate in water-conscious activities. Shoreline cleanups and similar activities are fun and important ways to help clean the natural environment, which improves water quality, beautifies it, and makes it safer for wildlife. Stay informed! World Water Day is March 22 of every year. Keep on the lookout for water-conscious activities and initiatives!
- Be careful of what you flush or pour down the drain. Many items are non-flushable but are still flushed frequently. These include dental floss, sanitary pads, sanitary wipes, condoms, makeup removal wipes, Q-tips, medications, cleaning products, and other chemicals. Many items can be simply thrown in the garbage for safe disposal. However, medications, cleaning products, and any chemical substances should be safely disposed of at designated facilities, since they cannot be removed by traditional water filtration techniques and harm the wildlife that it comes in contact with. Flushing non-flushable items can also severely clog pipes, leading to water backups and costly repairs.