On any given day, one might find several front page news articles covering the topic of water – whether it’s the political debate taking place in Detroit, Arizona officials introducing beetles to kill a particular tree that consumes a lot of water, or the drought in California. The lack of water is alarming and lately has me feeling guilty every time I run the dishwasher or washing machine. I want to be a good steward to our planet, especially in ways I can control in and around my home. So how can I (and you) lessen our water footprint so future generations don’t have to face an even worse situation? Here are some ways I’m going to start incorporating into my daily routine to reduce my home’s excess use of water.

Checking leaks: I plan to watch my water meter this week after work (and before daily tasks like dinner preparation or a load of laundry get going) for an hour. If during that hour I notice the meter changing while no water consumption is taking place then I know I need to contact a plumber to identify a leak.

Piping insulation: Speaking of calling the plumber, it’s been on my to-do list since we moved into our new home. It takes the hot water forever to flow in our bathroom, which leads me to believe our pipes need some insulating. All that water going down the drain each morning while we wait and wait and wait for the water to be reasonably warm is wasteful.

Washing the veggies: I’m guilty of letting the water run while I wash our fruits and vegetables in the kitchen sink. I’m vowing now to end this nasty habit and will partially fill the sink with some water and white vinegar to further help reduce our home’s water consumption.

Running a bath: Another confessional item here: I don’t plug the bath tub until the water temperature is to my liking. Yes, shame on me. From now on I’m making sure to stop up the bathtub right away and adjust the hot/cold as the bath fills.

Ideas for the shower: There are several ways to reduce this activity’s water consumption. One, set your phone timer for five minutes so you know for each minute over you’re wasting anywhere between seven to 10 gallons of water per minute. If you’ve gone over the five-minute mark and still haven’t washed your hair or lathered up, turn off the water and resume for rinsing.

Reusing pet’s water: Although I do use our cat’s discarded water to feed outside potted plants, I never thought to also use Salvador’s (our fish) tank water as a means to water my outdoor or indoor plants. This too is going on my list.

Things your mom always told you: For some reason these types of things sunk in for me but not so much for my husband (don’t be mad honey for spilling the beans here). I’m going to leave some colorful post-it notes next to the sinks that say “turn the water off while you brush your teeth or wash your hands.” And maybe adding an amendment to the note saying “fill up the sink up when shaving or doing dishes.” Oh, and of course an “I love you” or “you’re the best” at the bottom to be sure I don’t end up in the dog house.

By Athena Snow