July Challenge: Watching our water usage

Water is the driver of nature. – Leonardo DaVinci

A sponge under a leaky faucet takes care of the annoying drippy noise. I do that. I have also plugged the sink and let it fill up with the drips, you know, to save water.   I will use that water for the house plants or to wash dishes. But really, this is just plain laziness and fixing the faucet would be a much better option and waste no water.

During our hot and sometimes dry month of July, let’s make water conservation the focus of our monthly sustainability challenge.

I was asked once, “Do you have water at your farm?”

“Two springs,” I answered.  “Then you are wealthy,” was the response.

This is really how we need to think of water, as a source of wealth.  In Ohio, we are lucky to have an abundance of fresh water. That does not give us permission to squander it, it gives us the responsibility to conserve it and keep it clean as it flows downstream all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Restoring the ecological health of rivers, watersheds, wetlands, floodplains, and aquifer is key to preserving our wealth and health.

Globally, about 70 percent of available fresh water is withdrawn for irrigation and other agricultural purposes. In places where water scarcity is a problem—about a third of the watersheds of the world—that percentage can grow to more than 90 percent. But there are ways to cut back water use without harming agricultural productivity, even in arid places. In the USA, most of the water is used not for irrigation (29%), but in the thermoelectric-power industry to cool electricity-generating equipment (40 to 50%).

In addition to fixing any leaky faucets, here are 10 more simple suggestions for how to conserve water in your home and garden:

  1. Use a rain barrel to collect water that can be used for your garden and plants.
  2. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and washing your hands
  3. Keep a plastic dishpan in the sink, so rinse water doesn’t automatically go down the drain.
  4. Take shorter showers or decrease the number of showers you take. For most people, daily showers are not a health or hygiene-related necessity.
  5. Water your outdoor plants in the early morning. You can use less water before temperatures start to rise during the day causing evaporation.
  6. Use native plants and/or low water plants and succulents. Consider the amount of water and care that plants will need while planning your garden.
  7. Add mulch. A 2-3 inch layer of mulch helps your garden soil retain moisture.
  8. Reduce your lawn size. Adding patios (we love natural building techniques) and other non-grass spaces reduces the amount of water you need to maintain your yard.
  9. Recycle household water. If you use a dehumidifier, keep a 5 gallon becket nearby to dump the water in. You can reuse this water for plants, etc.
  10. Make your own compost. Not only does your leftover food waste help nourish your soil, it can also help retain water in sandy soil or improve drainage in clay soil.

What are your most creative ways to conserve water at home and in the garden?


  1. Heather Wicks says:

    I keep a jug by the kitchen sink to collect the water that runs while I wait for it to get hot. Then I use that water to rinse dishes or rinse vegetables or fruit and other chores I would otherwise run water for.

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