For those who haven’t been following the news, California is currently in the midst of a severe drought emergency.  I won’t rehash details that have already been covered elsewhere; instead, I’ll focus on my own personal perspective. As soon as I heard about how bad the drought was, I wanted to take action and do my part.  Unfortunately, as a renter in an apartment complex, there wasn’t much I could do.  Since my property manager handles our lawn and garden, I couldn’t make the call to switch to drought-tolerant plants.  (Heck, for all I know, we’ve already done that).  To the best of my knowledge, my appliances were functioning correctly and didn’t have any leaks, and there wasn’t much I could do about my neighbors’.  What steps could a renter make to reduce their water usage?

The answer is, a lot.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “if it’s yellow, let it mellow.”  In other words, urine doesn’t need to be flushed down the toilet right away.  Reducing the number of times you flush can save gallons of water each day.  Cutting back on another luxury, daily showers, can make a huge impact.

For those who are more hygiene-sensitive than me, another easy change can be made to your diet.  “Virtual Water” refers to the often unseen water usage in production of food: irrigation for crops, water fed to animals for meat and dairy products, water used in processing.  This handy chart can show the water used in many common foods.

After growing up in rural Iowa, I’m a real meat-and-potatoes kind of girl, so going full-on vegetarian or vegan seems a bit unlikely, but cutting down on the amount of meat I eat generally seems like a good idea.  So, last night for dinner, I tried this recipe.

It’s not perfect on its water usage.  After all, legumes are pretty high on the list, as is pasta, but I justified it to myself in that all of the ingredients were things I already had in the cupboard: if I’ve already bought spaghetti and peanut butter, not eating them isn’t going to do anyone any good.

So, all in all, reducing water usage can be pretty simple, even if you don’t own your home.  And, it might even provide an opportunity to try out some new recipes!