If you live in California, you know things are about to get real when it comes to water conservation. Governor Jerry Brown recently called for the state's first-ever mandatory water reduction in urban areas due the the state's exceptional drought.
Residents of the Golden State will be required to curb their water use by a whopping 25 percent beginning in June. But even if you don't live in a rain-challenged region, saving water helps the planet overall. Odds are, you don't even realize how much water you're using—the average household uses a whopping 260 gallons every day! We've got 8 simple hints for keeping water in our lakes, rivers, and streams—where it belongs.
1. Drop a brick in your toilet to conserve water
No one's suggesting you give up your commode, but toilets use up to 27 percent of a household's water a day!
One easy way to stop the toilet's water gluttony? Place a brick or another heavy object in the tank. This prevents the toilet from refilling the tank completely after each flush, saving water every time you use it.
Just make sure to use something that won't disintegrate and clog your toilet, and be sure to place the object above the low water mark. There's even a synthetic rubber brick you can use instead of a regular old brick.
2. Choose water-friendly foods
Some items on your dinner plate use much more water than others to produce. Meat is the number one water hog, but lots of fruits and veggies give it a run for its money.
Almonds are one of the worst offenders. They require 24 gallons per ounce to grow, though from a nutritional standpoint, they use water fairly efficiently. If you're looking to reduce your water footprint, you might also want to avoid mangoes and chickpeas, as they use 28.5 gallons and 76.07 gallons per ounce, respectively.
3. Only wash with full loads
Don't do half loads of laundry, and the same goes for the dishwasher. By waiting until you can totally fill them up, you get the best use out of each gallon of water. Plus, that's fewer loads of laundry and dishes to put away!
4. Get rid of your grass
More than half of our water use comes from watering our lawns and gardens. The easiest way to cut back? Rip out your lawn! You'll save money on your water bill and help the environment.
You don't need to be constantly watering to have a yard your neighbors will envy. Plenty of plants, including succulents and cacti, don't need very much water to survive. Just make sure the plants you choose are compatible with your climate before you start gardening.
5. Cut back on meat
The average cow drinks as much as 30 to 45 gallons of water per day, and that's not taking into account the amount of water used to raise the grain they eat. That means approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a just one pound of beef. (Yes, really!)
You don't have to give up meat entirely, but cutting back portions or going meatless one day a week can a big difference.
6. Reduce your electricity use.
You probably don't think of leaving your lights on as a big drain on the water supply, but electricity actually uses more water than you might think. Coal and nuclear power plants, for instance, use between 20 and 60 gallons of water for each kilowatt-hour of energy they produce.
Why? Power plants get hot, and they need water to cool down their systems, so they often pull pull water from lakes or other natural resources. So be smart when it comes to conserving energy—wasting water to power a lightbulb you don't need is not exactly a bright idea.
Photo credit: Vipul Mathur via Flickr