England is in the midst of what could be described as a clean water crisis. Over the coming decades, the UK is set to become hotter and more crowded. The current population of 66 million is expected to grow to 75 million by 2050, while higher summer temperatures caused by climate change could mean water levels in some UK rivers see a 50% to 80% reduction.
The combination of these projections regarding population growth and warmer weather has culminated in stark warnings about future water shortages. The Environment Agency (EA) has warned that unless the UK reduces its water use, it will be unable to meet national demands for clean water within the next 25 years. Both as individuals and businesses, changing the way we consume and conceive of our relationship with water has never been more important.
The Chief Executive of the EA, Sir James Bevan, has expressed a need to “use less water and use it more efficiently” if we are to meet the increasing demand for water. Specifically, the EA has stated that England’s water consumption must be cut by a third.
On average, each individual in England currently uses 140 litres of water per day. The EA suggests this must be cut to 100 litres, which will free up water for an extra 20 million people. According to Sir James Bevan, this reduction should be achievable simply by using water more sparingly and intelligently.
Reducing our water use as a nation is going to involve changing our attitude towards this fundamental resource. Through being more mindful about the ways in which we consume water on a day-to-day basis, we can start using water more efficiently in every aspect of our lives.
Approximately 40% of the water we consume in a day is used in the bathroom, with a further 22% as a result of flushing the toilet. This means your morning routine is a great place to start when considering cutting down on your water consumption.
Investing in an efficient showerhead and a low-flush toilet will get you off to a flying start. Ensure your morning shower is short and snappy – and turn the water off while lathering and shaving if you can. Similarly, when cleaning your teeth only run the water when necessary, turning the tap off while you brush. It may only be a couple of minutes, but twice a day every day adds up.
Another scene of water-wasting crimes is undoubtedly the kitchen. Try minimising the amount of time you run the tap: don’t wash up under running water and use the minimum amount of water you need for boiling water. Steaming vegetables instead of boiling them not only saves water but will also preserve nutrients.
A less obvious thing to consider when saving water concerns not how you cook, but what you cook. Different foods take varying amounts of water to produce. Meat needs significantly more water than vegetables or grains, so an easy way to reduce water usage – albeit indirectly – is to eat fewer animal products.
Washing up and washing clothes can also be overly wasteful activities. An efficient dishwasher and washing machine will help, but you can also play a part by ensuring you’re only using them when they are full, as well as choosing shorter wash cycles.
While we may live in one of the rainier parts of the continent, there are still drier seasons when we might want to hydrate our green spaces. So what can you do to save water outside? When it comes to lawns, the most effective method is simply not to water them. It might be a little unsightly during particularly dry weather, but grass is resilient and will spring back to life with the rain.
If watering is a must then consider capturing and storing rainwater with water butts. This is an easy and environmentally friendly – not to mention cost-effective – method of keeping gardens fresh and green. Another thing to consider is how well the soil holds moisture: introducing organic matter, mulch or synthetic alternatives like gel will enhance the soil’s ability to retain water, meaning less watering is needed.
When making behavioural changes to better serve the environment, our first instinct is to turn to the home. However, a lot of us spend a significant portion of each day in the workplace. This, along with the huge industrial demand for water, means businesses must play a vital role if we are to save enough water to make an impact nationwide.
Many of the saving strategies already explored can be implemented in the workplace. Staff and customer bathrooms, kitchens and outside spaces can all be made more water-efficient through the installation of quality appliances and the adoption of methods discussed above.
Given their scale, businesses can hold opportunities for saving water that households do not. The sheer amount of plumbing systems and fixtures in industrial buildings, as well as how often they are used, means that leaks are more likely in the workplace and, when they occur, more water will be wasted. Checking for leaks regularly and fixing them quickly has the potential to save a lot of water, not to mention money!
Another area where businesses can implement unique efficiencies is through the provision of drinking water. With the wrong facilities, thirsty workers or customers can cause enormous waste. Running the tap until the water is cold uses far more water than will be consumed, while a 2016 study found that overfilling kettles adds almost £150 million to the national energy bill.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to curb staff water usage without having to cut their all-important morning cuppa. Instant filtered taps such as those provided by Billi deliver water immediately and at the desired temperature – cold and crisp or boiling hot. This way, the amount that’s used is the amount that’s drunk: beautifully filtered water and absolutely nothing wasted.
Water is an essential natural resource that should never be taken for granted. With the right mindset and through harnessing innovative, efficient water installations such as Billi, we can ensure future generations do not go without.