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January 11, 2021

Are you a water waster? Find out how much water you consume and reduce usage

  • A new water consumption tool by Finish® allows users to input their usage habits and find out how much water they use daily. 
  • It includes insight into the countries that waste the most water per capita (with Canada having the highest consumption at 29.1 m3 per year). 
  • The tool also includes expert tips from hydrologist Ali Nazemi on how consumers can reduce their water consumption. 

Water scarcity affects 40% of the planet. Collectively, it’s crucial that were all more aware of the way in which we use – and waste – water. After all, water wastage will inevitably lead to water scarcity, which can lead on to drought. In turn, we could see water levels drop in our wonderful reservoirs, lakes, rivers and streams; fish and plant life dying; livestock, endangered species and wildlife not being able to access drinking water; and reduction of soil quality impacting agriculture.   

Introducing the Finish® Water Comparison Tool 

With all this at stake, the Finish® Water Comparison Tool might help make a difference. It asks users to answer several questions about their habits in relation to water use. The aim being, that by helping individuals understand their water usage, it’ll also help them think about water reduction options 

The tool covers a wide range of household activities that use water and ends up contributing to an individual’s total water consumption figure. Users are asked about behaviours such as lengths of showers, number of laundry loads, how they choose to wash their car or lawn, and whether they use a dishwasher to save water.  

At the end, users are presented with two bespoke results: 

  • The volume of water they use, on average, every day (in litres) 
  • The volume of water they use, on average, every year (in litres) 

How do countries compare on their domestic water consumption per capita? 

The tool goes on to explain that the average Canadian uses enough water to fill 40 hot tubs, or 200 bathtubs every year. When pitted against other countries, this puts Canada first in line in terms of highest water consumption per capita in the worldPart of the reason for this is a myth that Canada has a permanent abundance of water.  

Canada is home to 20% of the world’s freshwater, leading consumers to believe there’s no risk to using – and, indeed, wasting – water. However, various factors – including climate change, global warming, consumer behaviour and governmental policies – mean sustainable water usage needs to be a priority to preserve Canada’s water supply for future generations. 

The top 7 countries in the world for domestic water consumption per capita are: 

  1. Canada (population in thousands: 30889) – 29.1 m3 
  • When you combine domestic water consumption with industrial and agricultural water use, this equates to a massive 2,333 m3 per capita. 
  1. Armenia (pop. 3090) – 27.3 m3 
  • Armenia’s water usage figure rose between 2009 and 2017 due to expansion of the public water supply network to rural areas. This means that, while Armenia’s population decreased by 7% during this period, the amount of water supplied to households increased by 75%. 
  • Their total combined water usage figure is 1,439 m3 per capita per year; a lower total compared to Canada due to Armenia’s lower green and grey water consumption. 
  1. New Zealand (pop. 3906) – 26.1 m3 
  • While concern for the environment has meant consumers strive to adopt water saving habits, water usage is high, typically due to demand in agriculture, hydro-electricity and tourism. 
  • Thanks to low figures for green, blue and grey water across industrial, domestic and agriculture, New Zealand’s total water consumption is 1,589 m3 per capita per year.  
  1. USA (pop. 288958) – 22.6 m3 
  • Domestic consumption in the United States may be attributed to easy access to safe, treated water across the country. While consumption rates are high, public domestic water use has declined since 1995, partly due to infrastructure improvements, better detection of leaks and consumers being more aware of the problems caused by water wastage. 
  • The USA has a total water consumption amount of 2,842 m3  per capita, per year with its green water consumption being the highest of the countries in this top 7.  
  1. Costa Rica (pop. 3963) – 19.9 m3 
  • Costa Rica has a good track record of environmental conservation, however with clean water being guaranteed for all households, it does allow water to be more easily used. 
  • Costa Rica’s total water consumption is 1,490 m3, owing to low blue water figures, and comparatively lower grey water figures when compared to the US and Canada. 
  1. Panama (pop. 2979) – 18.5 m3 
  • Panama is the biggest consumer of water in Latin America. As both its population and economy steadily grows, the country is likely to face further demand for new water sources. Household water usage is also encouraged due to the low cost of water in the country. A significantly low total blue water consumption amount sees Panama’s total figures being the lowest of this group of 7, at 1,364 m. 
  1. United Arab Emirates (pop. 3330) – 18.5 m3 
  • The UAE has the highest ecological footprint the world, with water consumption growing significantly since 1960 (both due to population growth and high household water use). With the country’s water desalination plants burning copious amounts of fossil fuels, its demand for water is also adding to its carbon footprint. 
  • The UAE has one of the highest total water consumption across agriculture, domestic and industry at 3.136 m3, scoring highest for all three types of water usage compared to all 7 countries in this list.  

How to reduce your water consumption 

High water consumption – and any rate of water wastage – could have significant environmental impacts that are felt throughout generations. Fortunately, some simple shifts in your habits can go a long way in helping reduce our individual water consumption. Hydrologist Ali Nazemi, who is also Associate Professor at the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering at Concordia University, shares the following tips for reducing water consumption: 

  • Check your appliances regularly for leaks in the water pipes, including your dishwasher, toilet, washing machine, showerheads and taps in both the kitchen and bathroom. 
  • Switch to efficient appliances where possible. This includes efficient dishwashers and washing machines, and low-flow toilets, as well as installing efficient showerheads and aerators on taps. 
  • Consider changing some habitsWhile many people will take daily showers and put their clothes in the wash after wearing them just once, you may not need to do either of these. Unless you’re very active, you can reduce your showers to every other day (or even less!), while most clothes will last for several wears before they need to be washed. 
  • Never pre-rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Instead, simply scrape any food into the green bin and place them in the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, put your dishes in a tub of soapy water immediately after use, scraping off food into the green bin first. With less stubborn food to remove, you’ll be using less water and less elbow grease! 
  • Take a short shower, if possible, as every drop counts. Turn off the shower when washing your hair and body – leaving the water running accounts for half of the total water used when showering.  
  • Try to think of baths as treats. Stop running the tap when your tub is three-quarters full – or even half full – so you don’t spill water when you step in. If you enjoy a regular bath, consider getting a smaller tub.  
  • As well as installing an efficient toilet, you may want to switch to a smaller flush tank and use recycled water for flushing. For example, if you usually run the water in the shower while it gets up to temperature, capture this water in a bucket and use that to fill the flush tank. Flushing accounts for 30% of household water use, so only use the flush when nature calls – and not as a substitute bin for disposing of things like dental floss. 
  • When washing vegetables, utensils or dinnerware, don’t let the water run. Soak your veggies in water rather than running them under the tap. 
  • Whether you’re shaving, washing your face or brushing your teeth, don’t let the water run. On average, people use the bathroom 5 times a day – which means washing their hands at least 5 times too. You may want to switch to automated taps – where it runs on only when your hand is under the tap – to help save water even further. 
  • Make sure you’re not under- or over-filling your washing machineUsing a washing machine rather than handwashing is the best way to save water when washing clothes. Most clothes won’t need extra rinsing at the end either – save it for occasional special items instead. 
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