The drought that’s settling across America’s heartland is on the verge of endangering crops, livestock, and for many farmers, livelihoods. Many of the water-saving tips that are out there deal with how to re-use rainwater–but how can you save rainwater when you haven’t had rain for weeks?
Look to other sources that will allow you to use water to maximum potential. You may find a couple of new methods to implement now and use forever!
1. Collect “water leftovers” and use to water plants. If you have an inch or so of drinking water left in glass, or melting ice cubes left after a drink is gone, don’t pour it down the sink. Use a lidded pitcher or a clean milk jug, and put the leftovers in the container to use to water herbs and small plants. You may want to avoid using the dregs of strong teas on your tender plants–try using diluted teas on acid-loving pines or hydrangeas.
2. Water with rinse water. You can reroute your laundry rinse water into a large container–even a rain barrel–and use that to water your garden or lawn. (Of course, you’re using biodegradable detergents, right?) If you make your own laundry soap, you can use that rinse water for watering–all the ingredients are biodegradable. If you must wash a vehicle, do it at home, and use the homemade laundry soap to do it. Put your car on the lawn, and add some moisture to your lawn while you clean. It can take 80 to 140 gallons of water to wash one car, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Use that water wisely!
3. Brick up your toilet. Add a brick or a similarly-sized container full of water to your toilet tank. The brick displaces up to 1/3 of the tank’s water. There’s enough volume to ‘flush’ cleanly for most toilets. (Or consider a low-water toilet system or even a nearlyÂ water-free composting toilet. They’re clean, efficient and add great nutrients to your compost pile or garden.)
4. Sweep your concrete and hard surfaces around the house clean. Sure, it’s easier to use the hose to clean off the porch and the driveway. But it’s nearly as wasteful as washing the car on that same driveway. Grab a heavy-duty broom, and sweep surfaces outside your house clean. If dust is a concern, use some of that leftover rinse water to give your brooming a boost.
5. Compost kitchen waste. Instead of rinsing peelings and trimmings down the kitchen disposal, pop them in a kitchen bin and then add them regularly to the compost pile with garden and yard bits and clips. Never use oils, meats or fats on your compost pile. Eggshells, coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, fruit trimmings are all fair game for the compost pile, though, and help the compost pile ‘cook’ efficiently.
6. Use a dishpan to wash and rinse dishes. When you hand-wash dishes, use a dishpan for washing and rinsing. You’ll run less water by confining the chore to the dishpans. Even if you use a three-vessel method for washing dishes, it can all be done in dishpans.
7. Dishpans or deep kettles are perfect for delicates too!Â When you have to launder delicate items by hand, use deep containers for washing to limit your water use. To get handwashed garments extra clean, consider a non-electric, all in one wash and rinse unit.
8. Recycle water used for cooking. After boiling veggies or pasta, drain into a colander, catching the cooking water into a lidded container. Refrigerate the cooking water. You can boil two or three batches of pasta or noodles before the cooking water is too starchy. After use, the cooled pasta water can be used on bedding plants or herbs. Veggie water can be used a few times too–then freeze it into cubes and use as a booster for soup base.