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When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.  ~Benjamin Franklin

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling to places where you should never, ever drink the water that comes out of the tap. Usually there’s bottled water available, but it takes vigilance to remember to use it every time you brush your teeth – a single lapse, and you could spend the next two days on the can.

Ice is also suspect. I tend to make a case by case decision about ice in my drinks. Sometimes it’s worth living dangerously to have a frozen margarita.

I came back from a vacation in Mexico last week, and the first few times I turned on a faucet, I was astonished to think that all the water rushing down the drain was potable. Every drop of the water we use to shower, to flush the toilet, wash our clothes and water the lawn has been purified to be safe for drinking. That means that the average U.S. household uses over 400 gallons of clean drinking water a day!

Doesn’t that seem crazy wasteful!?

On Cape Cod, we don’t have the kind of  severe droughts that afflict much of the world, so It’s easy to take our clean, abundant water for granted. But that’s not the way most of the world works. And not taking things for granted is important if we want to change the way we impact the earth.

This Earth Day, I’m committing to being more mindful of the worth of water. If you’d like to join me in reducing your water waste, consider the following:

1. Shower bucket. Instead of letting the water pour down the drain, stick a bucket under the faucet while you wait for your shower water to heat up. You can use the water for flushing the toilet or watering your plants.

2. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Water comes out of the average faucet at 2.5 gallons per minute. Don’t let that water go down the drain while you brush! Turn off the faucet after you wet your brush, and leave it off until it’s time to rinse.

3. Turn off the tap while washing your hands. Do you need the water to run while you’re scrubbing your hands? Save a few gallons of water and turn the faucet off after you wet your hands until you need to rinse.

4. If It’s yellow, let it mellow. This tip might not be for everyone, but the toilet is one of the most water-intensive fixtures in the house. Do you need to flush every time?

6. Re-use your pasta cooking liquid. Instead of dumping that water down the drain, try draining your pasta water into a large pot. Once it cools, you can use it to water your plants. Just make sure you wait, because if you dump that boiling water on your plants, you might harm them.

7. Head to the car wash. If you feel compelled to wash your car, take it to a car wash that recycles the water, rather than washing at home with the hose.

8. Cut your showers short. Older shower heads can use as much as 5 gallons of water per minute. Speed things up in the shower for some serious water savings. And do you really need to shower daily? Skipping even one shower a week makes a difference.

9. Choose efficient fixtures. Aerating your faucets, investing in a low-flow toilet, choosing efficient shower heads, and opting for a Water Sense rated dishwasher and washing machine can add up to big water savings.

10. Use less electricity. Power plants use thousands of gallons of water to cool. Do your part to conserve power, and you’re indirectly saving water, too!

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