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Organic Consumers Association

Take This Quiz to Find Out if You are a Water Waster or Saver

With a single flush, you put as much water down the drain as an average person in the developing world uses all day.

Where does the water piped into our homes go? The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day. The French and Germans use about 60 gallons a day per capita, and people in some tribal communities use fewer than 10.

Can we reduce our water usage?

We can, perhaps, avoid unnecessary waste. A leaky toilet, for example, can pour away 200 gallons of water a day, tripling usage.

A change of habit or two can also save the precious fluid.

To find out whether you're a water-sipper or a water-slurper, take the following quiz. Then scroll below to rate your own water footprint.

Answer the following questions to see where you rank on the water-conservation meter:

1. How much time do you spend in the shower every day?

a) 5 minutes

b) 10 minutes

c) 20 minutes

d) I take a bath

2. How many times a day do you wash dishes?

a) Once a day or less in the dishwasher

b) Twice a day in the dishwasher

c) Three times a day in the dishwasher

d) Once a day by hand in the sink

e) Twice a day by hand

f) Three times a day by hand

3. How many times a week do you wash a load of clothes?

a) Once a week

b) Twice a week

c) Three times a week

d) Every day

4. When you brush your teeth, shave or wash up in the sink, do you:

a) Turn the faucet on and off as needed for rinsing or washing up

b) Leave the water running

5. How soon do you fix leaky water pipes or garden hoses?

a) As soon as leaks are noticed

b) Within a week

c) Whenever I get around to it

6. In summer, how long do you water your lawn and/or garden?

a) Less than 10 minutes a day

b) 10 minutes a day

c) 30 minutes a day

d) 60 minutes a week

e) 60-120 minutes a week

f) 120-210 minutes a week

g) More than 210 minutes a week

h) Never

7. How much of your property is xeriscaped (covered with water-efficient, indigenous vegetation)?

a) More than 50 percent

b) 30-50 percent

c) Less than 30 percent

d) None

e) None, I don't have a yard

How did you do?

Score yourself: Add up the points from each of your answers.

1. a) 1 point; b) 2 points; c) 5 points; d) 2 points;
2. a) 1 point; b) 2 points; c) 5 points; d) 1.5 points; e) 2.5 points; f) 3.5 points;
3. a) 1 point; b) 2 points; c) 3 points; d) 5 points;
4. a) 1 point; b) 5 points;
5. a) 1 point; b) 3 points; c) 5 points;
6. a) 1 point; b) 2 points; c) 5 points; d) 3 points; e) 4 points; f) 4.5 points; g) 6 points; h) 0 points;
7. a) 1 point; b) 2 points; c) 3 points; d) 5 points; e) 0 points

Determine your water use rating

If your total is ...

• Between 5 and 11: Congratulations, you are a real water saver!

• Between 12 and 19: Well done, you are water conscious and may become a real water saver some day.

• Between 20 and 29: You're using too much water for your actual needs, which makes you, unfortunately, a normal water user. Try cutting back on the number of loads of wash per week (full instead of partial loads) and on the length of time you shower; save dishes for one big wash per day in your dishwasher, or, if you wash by hand, do so in a basin, and turn on the tap only for rinsing; cut down on lawn and garden watering.

• A score of 30 or more, you're a water waster. Put a plug in it!

(source of quiz: National Wildlife Federation).

Learn more about how to conserve water at home here

For more information on this topic or related issues you can search the thousands of archived articles on the OCA website using keywords:

post Jun 26 2008, 08:58 PM

Not a very well thought out survey! Answers to question 2 and 3 would depend on the size of your household and age of children or grandparents. Question two if you do less dishes because you use paper plates and buy ready to serve main meals then you saving water but filling up landfills. Which is worse? Question 3 if I have a large household but dry my cloths outside doesn't that benefit the environment and thereby lessen my over all footprint?
Question 5 what if your waiting for a plumber or a building manager to respond? Question 6 is determined by how much rain you get. People in California would water where people in Iowa would wish it to stop raining. Better to water an organic garden in your yard rather than transport vegies to your area or have to shop for them. Question 7 if you have a small yard but want an organic garden your whole yard may be used more wisely. Mine was is Minneapolis. I didn't have to mow my lawn and could feed my family all summer.

post Jun 26 2008, 09:11 PM

Hi there. I have to agree with diared. It's a good idea to make up a checklist for people using city reticulated water supplies. Certainly valid for that. However water harvesting is a huge issue that we found out about when we moved to New Zealand 20 years ago. The area where we built our home had no city water, so concrete and plastic water tanks were used. The Auckland area receives about 1 meter of rainfall per year. Altho local and national govts are not supporting this yet in the areas of NZ with high rainfall, water harvesting can and is being done. With a 5,000 - 8,000 gallon tank (here about $3000 - $5000) a household can watch their own water via a gauge. Of course this won't work in desert areas etc. But we can testify that in areas of moderate to high rainfall this is a completely viable option and a good investment. Right now here, the councils are pushing reticulated - it costs as much as a water tank to hook up, then you pay for water forever.
Not an easy transition but one that some regions would benefit greatly from looking into.
P.S. Our water supply in Ridgefield, Washington was a giant tank on a hilltop near the little local cemetary. Good water and plenty of it for the 15 years we were there!

post Today, 06:57 AM

Yes, I am confused about question number 2 also. Do you mean turning the dishwasher on to do a whole cycle or simply rinsing a dish and putting it in the dishwasher. I put dishes in all week until I have a full machine and then do the dishes with the water miser cycle and no heat drying. Most dishwashers have these options now. They should be addressed in the question.