Reducing laundry by 5% saves 800 gallons of water per household annually.
How can one of the most technological advanced nations in the world suffer from water shortages? In part, that is because the technology that allows us to turn dry lands into suburbs can also put us at odds with growth, especially when it comes to water. According to the US Census Bureau the south and the west are still growing faster than the east and the midwest regions. The demand for water is going up, but the available supply is not. And when there is a drought, things get really bad.
Conservation and water management can alleviate some of the hardship. But all of this must first pass through the filter of politics and there are many competing interest when it comes to the politics of water. You have the demands of the farmers versus the environmentalist versus big cities. Not surprisingly, whoever controls the politics controls water management and growth.
Politics aside, what can the individual do? The consumer has a large part to play in water management. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, rates the top three areas of household water consumption as toilets, 26.7%, laundry, 21.7% and showers, 16.8%. Water saving toilets, efficient washing machines, as well as efficient shower heads and taking shorter showers all can make a big difference in reducing household water consumption. And outside, planting more bushes and less lawn is also a big water saver.
But there is at least one new area of household water management that has not been addressed until recently, laundry. When it comes to laundry many families overwash their clothes. There are many clothing items that can be worn more than once depending on the type of work and the climate. But most people don’t track clothing wear beyond the obvious visual inspection and the occasional sniffing. When it is time to do laundry, we tend to throw more clothes into the wash than necessary just to be safe.
Overwashing unnecessarily increases the amount of water needed in laundry.
The EPA estimates that the average family does almost 400 wash loads per year using an average of 41 gallons per load totaling 16,400 gallons of water. If by tracking clothing wear we can reduce our laundry just 5% we save over 800 gallons of water per household.
How can we better track clothing wear to prevent overwashing? The answer comes in the form of a small inexpensive closet tool that counts clothing wear. MyClothingHelper reminds the user of how many times they have worn a particular clothing item. Knowing how many times you have worn an item between cleanings allows you to get the full use of that still fresh item. And that translates to savings on water consumption, energy, and dry cleaning costs, and extends the life of your clothing.
So no matter what the politicians do, you can help yourself and the environment by better managing your laundry.