With about 71% of our planet’s surface covered in water, Earth’s nickname the Blue Planet is a well-deserved one. But when it comes down to it, fresh, drinkable water is a precious resource that is very often wasted. Fresh water is imperative for life, and as more and more parts of the world are experiencing first hand the devastation of droughts, it’s important that we start to conserve as much as possible. We all have a role to play at home, whether our native cities get a lot of rain or not, and that responsibility doesn’t fall away when we travel. We’ve put together some easy ways you can make a real difference while on holiday.
One of the most important things you can do before you even board your plane, is find out ahead of time how eco-conscious your hotel or lodges are, and what they are doing as far as conservation goes. Even more so if you’re going to an area facing water shortages. Hotels in drought-prone areas should have programmes in place to reduce water consumption while still keeping guests comfortable, and contingency plans should the situation worsen. Ask questions and expect answers.
If you’re the kind who likes to wallow with bubbles up to your neck, this one is going to be hard, but when water is scarce it’s best to forgo the bath and opt for a shower instead. Even showers, especially the luxuriously wide and high-powered ones, can use a lot of water, so try to keep them as short as possible. Turning off the taps while lathering can save a lot of water.
If you’ve got space in your luggage, consider packing your own towel and using it for the duration of your trip. Doing the laundry takes a lot of water, and this way you’ll be leaving less for your hotel to wash. But if you idea of carting your own towel around with you isn’t appealing, then definitely let the staff know you are happy to reuse the towel they place in your room for a few days.
When brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving, don’t leave the taps running. Once you become aware of how much water escapes down the plug hole every second the tap is open, it becomes easier to remember to only leave it running when you’re using it.
People who live in areas where the water supply is under pressure have come to accept the idea of “if it’s yellow, let it mellow”. The amount of fresh, drinkable water that is flushed down the toilet after every visit is staggering. Not flushing when it’s not absolutely necessary can make a huge difference to water consumption.
An almost inescapable part of any holiday is bottled water. But often half-full bottles are left in hot vehicles with, at best, lukewarm dregs going to waste. Consider reusing your bottle, and filling it up with tap water, provided the water quality in the city you’re visiting is drinkable. Don’t be afraid to find out ahead of time. An added bonus is reducing the amount of waste you leave behind.
If you notice leaks or dripping taps on your travels, let someone in charge know. The sooner it’s attended to, the more water can be saved. It’s another way to help ensure the place you’re visiting is able to conserve as much as possible.
In areas that are struggling with drought, you may find some hotels have closed their steam rooms or even the swimming pools. Try to be mindful of the challenges the locals are facing instead of complaining to staff who can’t solve the problem. Keep in mind that they live in the city you’re visiting and have to face these challenges long-term and not just for a few days. Instead, make the most of local beaches, rivers and lakes where possible.