It comes out of a tap, but it’s a precious commodity. In Australia, the driest continent on earth after Antarctica, water is an especially valuable resource. 

World Water Day, which falls on March 22, encourages people to adopt sustainable water usage practices.

“We need to be smarter about how we use water,” says Michael Smit, National Programs Manager at savewater! Alliance.

Here are Michael’s tips for using less water.

Start in the shower. Michael’s top tip for using less water in the home is to install a water efficient showerhead, which can use 40 percent less water a minute. “You don’t have to change your behaviour,” he said. “You can save water without having to do anything.”

Fix leaks. A dripping tap – often easily fixed by changing the washer – can waste up to 15,700 litres of water each year. Leaking toilets are even worse wasters of potable water, to the tune of 52,500 litres each year.

Go lawn-less. Maintaining an expanse of green lawn in your backyard costs a lot in water usage. Think about alternatives to lawn, like installing stepping-stones between plants in heavy traffic areas. Also consider transforming out-of-the-way areas into garden beds planted with natives – birds will love it.

Be smart in the garden. “I think it’s really important that people enjoy gardening and have green lush gardens that look terrific,” said Michael. That means choosing the right plants is essential. “If you choose water efficient plants they can look good in average conditions and they’ll survive dry periods,” he added.

Leave your dirty laundry. Start saving water in the laundry by letting your washing basket fill up, so you have a full load when you wash. The simplest way to use less water in the laundry however is to swap from a top loading washing machine to a front loader. “That will generally reduce your water usage by about half, from about 108 litres down to 53,” said Michael.

Install a rainwater tank. “You can use that to flush your toilet, to water your garden, and to run your washing machine,” said Michael. Using local water is an energy efficient and sustainable solution. “Because you’re using the water that’s falling on your roof you don’t need pumps and treatment plants and all that utility infrastructure,” he explained.

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