Don’t waste the water

A comment I received from my last post has pushed me to write about how people waste water and how you can learn not to. Stephanie commented that she was impressed with our low water use and wanted to know how we did it. It would be a very long post to highlight all the things we do so I will break it up into segments. Clothes washing, bathing, irrigating, dish washing, toilets etc.

If you want to learn how to save water or to not waste it, take a day and look at where all the water goes. At the same time, imagine what would be different if you had to haul that water in five gallon buckets from a lake stream or river in your back yard. I think what confuses people is that it can be so difficult to comprehend how much water each activity really uses.

One of the biggest water users can be the washing machine. Top loaders can use 40-60 gallons per load. Some families wash 400 loads a year. If you wash a load a day at 40 gallons per day, that is 1200 gallons a month.  A front loader can cut the water use in half. If you cannot get a front loader then wash clothes less often. Many items of clothing do not need to be washed after one wearing. Pants, sweaters and pajamas for example. Towels can be used more than once. Rethink how often your sheets need washing. Use or wear things longer than normal to save the number of loads you need to wash.

         frontloader                        washer greywater

For those who want to go beyond the norm to save water while doing laundry, see if you have the option of saving laundry water to flush toilets, water trees or other landscape plants. There is a long flexible tube at the back of your washer that discharges the water to the sewer or septic. If you pull the tube out of the pipe you can insert it into another pipe to redirect the flow. We are able to stick our tube though a window and have the water run down a pipe into a garbage can. We do not have a basement. The washer is level with the ground outside. Our front loader, when washing a full load, uses about 25-30 gallons of water. It fills our garbage can. We use a biodegradable soap and use the water to irrigate our corn and fruit trees. If I used two containers and were paying attention, I could collect the rinse water in a separate container and reuse it to wash the next load.

If you want to go even a step farther, I have heard of people who shower with the drain plugged, and then they throw the laundry in the tub to wash recycling the water. Then they haul it to the washer, spin the water off, do a rinse cycle and their done.

Our family of four, two adults and two small children, does an average of four loads a week. When I bring home clothes from the dumpster I wash them and it adds, on average, two loads per week. We are still able to only use about 16 gallons per person per day. Our goal is 10.

For today, just become aware of how much water you use on a daily basis for activities. Check back to find out how to save water bathing.




  1. April 23, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Wow, I’m really impressed! I guess I didn’t realize a washing machine uses that many gallons of water. I’m down to three loads every three weeks (yes, I could do one a week, but I really hate it and save it until it is a necessity.) I never thought about redirecting the water into a tub for watering plants. What type of soap do you use?

  2. wasteweardaily said,

    April 23, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    If you can check your washers manual it should say how much it uses. Some use more than others. I don’t see anything wrong with saving up your laundry and doing it all at once. If you have to use a dryer, it is better to do loads back to back. One load a week on average is really good for one person. We use a biodegradable soap called Wash Day that came with a water softener we bought 8 years ago. It was a four year supply.

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