Crash Dieting and Water Conservation

Wolfe Rygaard

Whenever I tell someone I’m an environmental scientist, I get one of two answers. The first is a half-hearted call for help. Something like, “How can I help the environment?” or the one I’ve been getting the most lately, “How can I reduce my carbon footprint?” The use of trendy buzzwords doesn’t show much real interest, but I still prefer this answer over the other. Some people will look me dead in the eyes and say they don’t care about climate change or the environment in general. Although I respect the honesty, I do try my best to plant a seed I side these people. After having the same discussion dozens of times, it’s evident that some people misinterpret the word “conservation” which in turn causes them to lose interest in efforts to restore and protect the environment.

In terms of water conservation, many imagine wildly reducing their water usage overnight. They picture a life filled with one-minute showers and desert-like lawns. I call this the “crash diet approach”. For those unfamiliar, a crash diet is a when someone drastically alters their diet in an attempt to lose weight. The most common example is replacing meals with salads to greatly reduce calories. Although in theory a crash diet is effective, they often fail because the changes are unsustainable. People who crash diet tend to reach a breaking point and either binge eat or simply return to their old eating habits. Both of these results in the progress obtained from the crash diet being undone. In short, water conservation doesn’t require you to completely change your lifestyle. To prove how easy water conservation can be, I’ve listed four easy ways to save water. If you need another reason to keep reading, all of these tips can put money back in your pockets. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s save the planet, and your wallet.

#1 Consume Less

I know we just talked about dieting, but I’m not asking you to lose weight. The key word here is consuming. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 1/3 of all food is wasted per year in the U.S. alone. That amounts to about 133 billion pounds. Not only are over 100 billion pounds of food wasted every year, but the resources also used to grow those plants or raise those animals are wasted as well.

For example, over 2000 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of meat. In 2010, the EPA determined that the average American wasted 218.9 pounds of food each year. Some quick multiplication (1000 * 219) shows that an American can easily waste over 200,000 gallons of water each year due to food waste (Note:1000 was used because other products, such as wheat, require less water than meat. It’s safe to assume that the average person isn’t consuming a meat only diet). An easy fix is only buying what you can eat. The environment, and your pockets, will be thanking you later.

#2 Construct a Water-Efficient Toilet

Even if you’ve never touched a hammer in your life, I’m sure you can save water one flush at a time with this easy trick. All you have to do is fill a bottle with sand or small pebbles and then place it in your toilet tank. With two easy steps, you can save up to ten gallons of water per day, depending on your bathroom habits.

If you’re not the DIY type but are interested saving money by flushing less water, you can purchase a tank bank and install that instead. It’s just as easy and only costs about $5.

#3 More Showering, Less Singing

We’ve all been there; the crowd is going wild as you belt your favorite songs into the shower head… I mean microphone. Of course, I don’t think you should cancel those private concerts, but considering that the average shower uses about 2 gallons of water per minute. So instead of giving the fans that last song, maybe consider saving nearly 10 gallons of water. If you’re the kind of artist who can’t say no to their fans, I recommend you look in to buying a WaterSense labeled showerhead which are design to give you comfortable showers with less water. (The picture below shows a faucet, but the concept is the same)

Either choice can save you $70 per year in energy costs and water costs. That sounds like a win-win to mean. Well… it would be if you stopped singing.

#4 Slow the Flow

Does this sound familiar? You wake up in the morning and drag yourself out of bed and into the bathroom to brush your teeth. As you scrub those pearly whites, the sound of the water rushing down the drain faintly rings in your ear. Hopefully, you said no. Unfortunately, this is the reality for too many. Running the water while brushing your teeth uses up to four gallons of water. Simply turning off the water lowers that amount to a quarter gallon (0.25). When you add in how often you brush your teeth and how often water is left running during other tasks, such as washing dishes and rinsing vegetables, this number becomes frighteningly large.

Bonus: Use your Voice

If you’re like me, you often find yourself providing financial support to friends and family. The easy methods listed above can easily add $200 dollars or more to your bank account and the same could be true for them. I’m sure you can see where this is going so spread the wealth by spreading knowledge!


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I am an environmental scientist who currently resides in Puerto Rico. I’m also passionate about basketball and Tottenham Hotspur.

Puerto Rico State

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