Conserving Water — Virtual Use

When you're using water at home, whether it's in your sink, your shower, or watering your lawn, it's clear you're depleting a vital and precious resource. You can reduce your indoor and outdoor water use by changing the way you use water in your home. Virtual water use, however, is more complicated.

What Is Virtual Water?

Virtual water is the hidden water cost of manufacturing and transporting consumer goods. Your virtual water footprint is the total volume of water used to make and ship the products you buy. By making changes to your routine, you can drastically drive down your water footprint. Depending on your diet and shopping habits, the majority of your water use is virtual.

Here's how to reduce your water usage from virtual sources:

Eat more vegetables.

It's a well-established fact that vegetables, fruits, and grains require less water to produce than meats, dairy products, and nuts. Limiting these types of foods can cut down your virtual water footprint and help save thousands of gallons of water. When you cook with filtered water, your fruits and veggies won't be affected by chlorine or its byproducts.

Don't shop for new clothes.

Cotton-based clothing uses thousands of gallons of water to produce. Instead, go thrift shopping or do a clothing swap with friends, family, and co-workers. When you're ready to let go of old clothes, donate them to charity. Extend the life cycle of your clothes by supplying your washing machine with filtered water. For best results, we recommend a Whole House Water Filter System.

Buy high-quality reusable products.

Almost all manufacturing processes use water, so limit your purchases of single-use items. Instead, invest in reusable products such as electric razors, dishware, drinkware, and tote bags.

Install energy-efficient light bulbs.

Switching to energy-efficient LED or fluorescent light bulbs will reduce your electricity use, thereby lowering your water footprint. Hydroelectric and thermoelectric power plants generate power by going through massive amounts of water daily.

Take public transit or ride a bicycle.

Driving your car requires gasoline and every gallon of gas you use wastes water. If you live in an urban area with an efficient public transportation system, avoid using your car unless traveling out of town. Bicycles are also an excellent option for getting around town or commuting to work.

Bring a reusable bottle or thermos with you to store your coffee, sodas, and water.

Disposable drink containers pollute the environment and are a waste of water. Ask to skip the straw and politely request service workers to pour your drink into your reusable bottle to drive down your water footprint. Fill up at home with cleaner, filtered water before heading out for your busy day.

Cut out plastic.

If you stop using plastic, you will cut down on your virtual water use. Buy reusable cloth bags for grocery shopping, bring reusable tableware when eating out, and switch to reusable bottles to drastically reduce the amount of plastic that negatively impacts the environment. Strengthen your resolve when you read these 10 shocking facts about plastic bottled water.

Use less paper.

This process should be straightforward in the digital age. Instead of buying books, download a digital version on your e-reader. Avoid printing documents that aren't necessary. Remove your address from junk mail lists to reduce the amount of unnecessary mail you receive.

Water is our most precious resource and our most limited. Implement these changes along with our indoor water use and outdoor water use tips to conserve the planet's most vital resource and pave the way for a more sustainable future.