Want to understand and reduce your wastewater footprint? We’re taking a detour from the garden for World Water Day. Wastewater is this year’s theme, and we’re looking home wastewater footprints. Individual efforts may feel like just a drop in the bucket, but it all adds up!
World Water Day's Focus on Wastewater
Understanding Your Wastewater Footprint
Understand the Water You Use and Dispose of at Home
Household water may include both potable (drinking/cooking/washing) and non-potable (gardening, cleaning) water sources. How these waters are sourced, used, reused, and offloaded can alter your footprint. Improvements might even save you some money, too. Most modern residential homes create greywater from washing and blackwater from human/animal waste (either separated or mixed) and redirect naturally occurring stormwater. Where do these go from your home? Where/how are they processed from there?
Understand the Water Footprint of Your Food
Understand where your food comes from and the implications. Agriculture is a big consumer of water and producer of waste, but there are a lot of hungry mouths on the planet. Here in New Zealand, there is a lot (a LOT!) of farm activity. We’re blessed with a temperate climate, good rainfalls, and good soil. Fortunately, most of our farming is not the forced, irrigated, confined, and/or horror factory farming that is plaguing many places; however, it does alter the environment and risk run-off of fertilisers, effluents, etc. People like to slag “dirty dairying” but the environment is a heavy focus area for local farmers, the corporations they supply, and the government. All farming, be it plant or animal, comes with risks and responsibilities.
Understand the Water Footprint of Your Consumer Goods
Understand the water and waste implications of your consumer goods (and more). Although agriculture, food, and beverage production is something many people think about when it comes to water, there are many major users – some of which might surprise you! Manufacturing uses an enormous amount of water and, of course, with enormous use often comes enormous wastewater. Sometimes pollution as well. Water Footprint Network has a number of very interesting articles and resources on consumption, pollution, and waste.
Reducing Your Home Wastewater Footprint
Look for Easy Efficiencies to Use Less Water
Improve Water Usage Efficiency of Appliances and Fixtures
You can modify/replace appliances and fixtures to use less water. This isn’t as quick, simple, or inexpensive as the easy efficiencies above, but if/as opportunity allows you can further reduce your water consumption by modifying or switching to lower-flow items.
Avoid Dumping to Stormwater
Reduce the Contaminants in Your Outgoing Wastewater
Reuse Greywater for Non-Potable Purposes
Collect and Use Rainwater
Support (and Shop) Sustainable Initiatives
Support Sustainable Business Practices
Support sustainable suppliers and efforts to improve sustainability. Recognise the efforts going into enhancing efficiency and sustainability within supply, manufacture, retail, services, etc. Understand that it is a work in progress and that your support will help sustain and progress it further. Understand that these safeguards, improvements, and innovations often come at a cost to the supplier. Be prepared to put your money where your sustainable mouth is to support greener choices.
Support Local Sustainability Programs
Support local efforts to enhance wastewater reduction and treatment. I have to say that I see a heck of a lot of “dirty humaning” going on around our local area, included frequent river/steam/ocean signage for “accidental sewage discharge” warnings from the local council. Not cool! It might mean municipal tax dollars are needed, but it really matters. Our homes, workplaces, factories, shops, restaurants, etc. are all feeding our waste into these systems.
Support Global Sustainability Programs
Support global efforts to enhance wastewater reduction and treatment. From sustainable supply chains for the products you choose to buy, to supporting programs which help to foster environmental initiatives around the world, to supporting government engagement in regulations and targeted reductions, every little bit helps.