As all California residents should know by now, the Golden state is experiencing a massive drought. We are now in our fifth year of drought and over 40% of the state is experiencing “extreme drought.” The severe lack of water has led to devastating forest fires and farmers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars; furthermore, produce prices have risen and the government has had to reallocate money from other budgets to provide drought relief. As the drought compromises the production of food, it impacts the health of everyone in California (as well as the rest of the country, since California is the largest producer of produce in the U.S.) through our nutrition.
While the California drought can seem like a far-away problem that is beyond the scope the individual, college students can make small changes to their daily lives to save water and keep the drought from worsening. Try out some of the tips below to save water in your apartment and do your part in conserving water.
- Take shorter showers (or take fewer!) — The average shower uses nearly 3 gallons of water per minute. If you shortened your showers or took one less shower a week, you could save hundreds to thousands of gallons of water per year! For example, if you take five showers a week and shortened them all by just one minute, you’d save almost 800 gallons of water in just one year!
- Turn off the shower while shaving — Another way to save water while showering is to turn off the shower whenever you’re not using it, whether you’re shampooing, shaving, or exfoliating. If you don’t explicitly need the water, turn the shower off until you do!
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing your face or hands — Again, letting the tap run while you’re not using it in the moment is an easy way to save water.
- Fix leaks in your apartment ASAP — Leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water loss per year. If you notice one in your apartment, contact your landlord immediately to have it fixed. In addition to conserving water, getting the leak fixed could save you a lot of money on your water bill!
- Use your dishwasher and clothes washer only for full loads — Dishwasher use 10-15 gallons of water per load while older clothes washers can use as many as 45 gallons (!) of water per load. If you only use them for full loads, you’ll have to run each appliance fewer times, saving money in the long run.
- Put a waterbottle in the fridge to cool down instead of running the tap until the water gets cold
- Use your leftover pasta water to water your plants — Repurpose your water! Your plants can’t tell the difference between tap water and pasta water, so reuse it!
If we all slightly change our habits, together we could make a huge contribution to drought relief in California. So, as we enter a new calendar year and a new quarter at UCLA, please consider setting an intention to save more water in your apartment, dorm, or on campus — it could even be your New Year’s Resolution!
Danielle de Bruin is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Italian and Global Health. She is the blog coordinator for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative and the director of UCLA’s Body Image Task Force, which is a committee within the Student Wellness Commission. With the Body Image Task Force, Danielle organizes events, workshops, and campaigns to promote healthy body image, self-confidence, and mental health on campus. She is also published in the journal PLOS Medicine and the Huffington Post.