California is currently experiencing a drought that has forced nearly 500,000 acres of farmland out of production.
A drought of this magnitude affects more than just California farmers—nearly half of the country’s fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown in California, meaning consumers across the country can feel the dryness. Even if you only eat frozen pizzas, the potential impact is hard to ignore:
- The drought could cost California’s economy $2.2 billion and 17,000 jobs. (source)
- Schools in agricultural regions can lose students when their families relocate for better jobs. This leads to student population instability and less state funding. (source)
- Increased food prices can force more people below the poverty line, putting extra strain on government-funded food programs. (source)
To counteract the drought, California legislatures recently passed regulations that will allow local authorities and water agencies to impose fines on water-wasters. But these fines only apply to a handful of scenarios, such as overwatering lawns and washing cars without a shutoff nozzle.
What other measures can we take to offset the California drought? Here are five ways you can reduce your “water footprint” at work (don’t worry, dehydration isn’t one of them).
1. Swap Coffee for Tea
I know, all the die-hard coffee fans out there just choked on their skinny vanilla lattes. But if you’re mainly drinking coffee for the caffeine, tea can provide the same stimulant for less water. Coffee requires 34 gallons of water to produce while tea takes only nine.
2. Put a Cork in It!
Leaking faucets and pipes can go unnoticed, causing gallons of water waste over a long enough timeline. Take initiative and notify your building maintenance crew of any leaks or drips you find. If you don’t have a maintenance staff, hire someone—or better yet, do it yourself. Everyone likes a go-getter!
3. Tell Your Vehicle to Vamoose
It takes an estimated 39,000 gallons of water to manufacture one car—hybrid or not. Then there’s the gas it takes to get your car to and from work, which requires water during extraction, refinement and transportation processes. Offset the water waste and make your ride to work less lonely by carpooling instead.
4. Take a Break From Plastic
While I mentioned that water deprivation is not a recommended solution to water waste, you should rethink the container that holds your precious H2O. Sadly, it takes 1.85 gallons of water just to make a plastic water bottle. Since most plastic bottles are considered unsafe for reuse, I suggest getting a reusable metal water cup, like this!
5. Please, Go Paperless
Every sheet of paper in your office required 3 gallons of water for the pulping and bleaching process. Reducing paper waste at work is a one-two punch for conservation as you’ll be sparing trees and water simultaneously. Print double-sided whenever possible and try to instil paper-free processes in your organization.
Still think droughts aren’t a major threat? A drought creates ideal conditions for massive uncontrolled fires—emergencies that are much harder to ignore than a parched reservoir. To prepare for all manner of emergency, download the Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity.