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Water is life

We need to safeguard the planet's most important resource

Did you know that 95.7 per  cent of the world's water  makes up the oceans? And  2.5 per cent of the remaining  amount is locked within the ice caps!  (friendsoftheearth.uk) That means that we  humans, along with the birds, bees, tigers,  elephants, ants, snakes and the billions  of other creatures on Earth, rely on such a  tiny volume of fresh water to stay alive.

However, water isn't just used by  humans for drinking - we cook and clean  with it, wash in it and need it to produce  everything from food to furniture.  You may think that water scarcities  don't happen in economically developed  countries (we simply need to turn a tap  and it's there!), but unless we act fast, we  will all face water shortages - in Great  Britain and beyond. According to the UK  Environment Agency, England is set to face  major water shortages by 2050 - meaning  that our food and production lines will  come to a grinding halt, our environment  will suffer and break down, and lives will  be lost.

But what causes water shortages?  Climate change is one of the biggest  drivers of water scarcities, as well as things  we all do, many of them absentmindedly,  each day. Most of us also support a  number of water-thirsty industries,  like cotton and unsustainable food  production. We need to become water  conservationists - each and every one  of us.

By using less water, we can retain more  in our ecosystems to help keep crucial  wetland habitats full for other creatures.  Saving water also helps to prevent  pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local  watersheds, and it reduces greenhouse  gas emissions associated with treating and  distributing water. So, what can we do? Try these ideas to  start saving water, today.

1. Use waterless products in your day-to-day life

Funnily enough, waterless products  don't require water - they include things  like no-rinse sanitiser, self-foaming skin  cleansers, no-rinse/towel-off face wash  and shampoo, dry shampoo and spray-on  cleaning products. Using these products  is a great way to reduce your water usage  - just make sure the products don't  contain any other nasties that are bad for  the planet, people or animals. Nilaqua  (norinse.co.uk) is a perfect example of a  waterless vegan health and hygiene brand  - check out their products online!

2. Have water-efficient bathroom breaks

The bathroom is probably one of the worst  places for water wastage - down the loo  or sink and in the bath or shower. Here are  simple ways to reduce your water use in  the bathroom:

• Turn off the tap while your brush your  teeth - a running tap can waste over  six litres of water a minute!  (wildlifetrusts.org)

• Shower don't bathe - the average-sized  bath takes around 80 litres of water  to fill it, whilst a shower typically uses  between six and 45 litres, depending on  how long you're in there for.

• Attach a cistern displacement device  to your loo - displacement devices  can save up to 5,000 litres of water  every year; they are free from most  water companies.

3. Alter your diet

Whilst eating vegan is a significant step in  reducing your food-related water waste,  there is still a lot more you can do. Try to  consume locally and seasonally; steam  your veggies instead of boiling them in  water and reduce the amount of food  you throw away - it takes a lot of water  to produce fruit, vegetables, cereals and  other foods and drinks, so once you've  bought your shopping, don't waste it.

4. Keep a jug of water in the fridge

Running the tap until it is cold enough for  drinking, wastes immense amounts of  water. Just think of how many times you  do this a day, and how much precious  water goes down the drain! Grab a jug -  or even better, purchase a water filtration  jug (Try the Zerowater 12 cup, £39.99  zerowater.co.uk) - and fill it up with water  when you wake up and place it in the  fridge. Pour out a glass of water from the  jug whenever you need a drink, instead of  wasting 10 litres of water a day waiting for  it to become cold!

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.