Over the last half century, the general public has become cognizant of the growing pressure on the world’s water supplies. Here in the United States, the Clean Water Act of 1972 helped propel a movement to protect the nation’s water supply both for drinking water and wildlife habitat. However, this is only one of many necessary steps needed; many nations around the world have yet to enact similar policy. Both domestically and internationally, water shortages arising from contamination and unsustainable use have strained relationships to the breaking point. From the Colorado River conflict between US states and Mexico to the massive citizen uprisings in Cochabamba, Bolivia, supply of and access to quality water sources have embroiled populations throughout the world. By using water conscientiously in our offices, we can help to alleviate pressures on the world’s water supply. From bathrooms to breakrooms, a wide array of options exists that reduce unsustainable water use.
Responsible water usage is a multi-pronged initiative. If you rent office space, encourage property managers to install water saving devices like low-flow toilets, as well as to implement water-saving practices like reduced watering schedules for lawns. You can also take initiative to reduce water flow by installing aerators in kitchen and bathroom sinks. And what about the water cooler? The most sustainable approach is to drink tap water, which cuts down on transportation costs (both monetary and environmental) and reduces waste. Instead of a traditional water cooler, try installing filters on faucets or buying a filtration pitcher to ensure quality drinking water. You can even keep the pitcher in your fridge, if you still want your water cold. Whatever steps your office decides to take, at all costs avoid buying bottled water. The rate of recycling these bottles hovers around 12%, filling up landfills and requiring the use of more petrochemicals.
- Use water saving fixtures like low-flow toilets when possible.
- If replacing old toilets is not an option, try filling a milk jug with water and placing it in your tank.
- Install aerators for kitchen and bathroom sinks.
- Choose vegetation that is well-suited to your climate and does not require excessive watering.
- Consider getting rid of the office water cooler and drinking filtered tap water instead.
- Do not keep disposable cups near sinks or coolers; instead, encourage employees to use washable and reusable cups and/or bottles.
- Buy sustainable drinking water products from providers that use biodegradable bottles.
- Avoid decorative water fountains in lobbies or in front of buildings.