Every year on 22 April over a billion people in 192 countries come together to take part in Earth Day, an effort to encourage people to be more consciously aware about the environment around them. In 2013 it was mostly concerned with climate change, trying to make people realise that although the effects of climate change may not be felt by them personally – especially in the Western world – real people, animals and places in other parts of the world are suffering. In 2014 it has a strong focus on ‘Green Cities’, intending to prompt cities around the world to become more efficient and use renewable energy in an attempt to tackle climate change.
As the organisers of Earth Day, the Earth Day Network, point out everyone can do their part – no matter how small! There are many large events taking place today to help promote protective environmental actions, but just because you can’t attend one of these it doesn’t mean you can’t do your bit. All it takes is one small step, and often just doing one tiny thing that helps the environment can lead to bigger things as you become more aware of the environment around you and are more likely to think about the environmental impact of something before you do it. That’s all it really takes, but people need to have the knowledge first in order to act on it.
We’ve put together five tips about things you can do in your bathroom to minimise environmental impact on Earth Day 2013. Don’t just carry them out today and forget about them though, make them part of your daily habits in the bathroom and keep remembering that every little helpful thing you do adds up to a whole.
Replace your toilet with a newer water saving model or fit a water saving toilet converter – Old toilets can use a quite frankly ridiculous 12 litres of water with every flush, wasting a massive 10,950 litres of water. These days’ new toilets won’t use any more than 6 litres, but you can reduce that impact even further. Purchasing a dual flush toilet gives you the option between a 3 litre flush for liquid waste and a 6 litre flush for solid waste. No longer will you have to use a lot of water just too flush away a bit of urine, plus save even more water by only using the toilet for its intended purchase and not using it to flush rubbish away.
If you can’t afford to get a new toilet then consider buying a water saving toilet converter instead. This is a low-cost piece of kit that upgrades your toilet to a dual flush system. It’s simple to fit and means you can have a 3 litre and 6 litre flush like a modern dual flush toilet would have.
Fix all bathroom leaks – A leaking bathroom tap at a rate of 1 drop a second can waste up to 6,000 litres of water a year. A leaking toilet is even worse, with nearly 32,000 litres of water wasted PER MONTH! It’s important to get these fixed, both to stop water wastage and for the sake of your water bill. Toilet leaks can often be silent, so the way to check if your toilet is leaking or not is to put a bit of food colouring into the cistern. If the colour ends up in the pan within 15 minutes or so then you have a leak. Fixing this type of leak is usually a pretty simply job, often being no more than a faulty flapper valve that are cheap and easy to replace, so don’t delay!
Have shorter showers – Believe me, I’m as guilty of doing this as anyone else, but taking shorter showers is going to save plenty of water in the long run. I know it’s tempting to stand there and appreciate the feeling of warm water beating down on you, but try to only use your shower time to do what you need to do; which is washing your body, hair, and rinsing off. You shouldn’t need any longer than 10 minutes to have a shower, so keep it to the bare minimum.
Similarly try not to have too many baths and opt for a short shower instead. I’m not saying never have a bath, we all love a good long soak from time to time, but a short shower will use far less water than a bath. However, remember that the longer you stay in the shower the more you’re in danger of using up the same water that a full bath does. If you don’t have a shower and have no other option than to have baths then try not to fill it up more than absolutely necessary.
Turn off that bathroom tap – Have you ever been guilty of keeping the bathroom tap running while you’re brushing your teeth? It has always troubled me in the past when other people have done it as I’ve never seen the point. Since then I’ve learned that brushing your teeth for an average of 2 minutes, twice a day, can waste nearly 23 litres of water if you don’t turn the tap off. Similarly, running the tap while shaving can also waste a lot of water – so turn it off!
Check your water metres – This isn’t a problem confined to the bathroom but rather the house as a whole. Checking your metre regularly will help you notice any drastic changes. If you haven’t been using any more water than normal then you may have a leak in the house, so it’s important to keep an eye on it.
You may also have heard about smart water metres being installed in millions of UK homes, which allow you to see – and the water companies – exactly how much you are using and charge you appropriately. These could lead to cheaper water bills as you curb your usage because you’ll know how much you are using, so the financial incentive is there as well as the environmental incentive.
Small changes can make a big difference, so try to do your part for Earth Day every day of the year.
Want some more ideas on how to save water and reduce your water bill? Check out another of our posts on the topic here.
Update: This post was originally published on April 22 2013 and has been updated to reflect Earth Day 2014.