Forget drinking eight cups a day: did you know the average Canadian consumes 3,496 litres of water per day, everyday?

Some of this water is obvious: we drink, cook and wash with it. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the water we consume is all but invisible to us. Everything we use requires water – to produce raw materials, and to manufacture finished goods – from the homes we live in, to the transportation we use, to the clothes we wear and the foods we eat.

As Canadians, we’re blessed with water. Canada boasts more coastline than any other country in the world and freshwater covers nearly 12% of our country’s total area. And yet, water is a precious resource, one we need to protect so supplies remain healthy for generations to come.

Wondering how you can save more water? Here are some easy ideas – none of which requires drinking less of this precious natural resource.

1. Don’t Buy Bottled Water

According to Freshwater Watch, it takes three litres of water to produce a typical, 1L single-use plastic water bottle. That doesn’t include the water filling it, the water used to refine the fuel used in its transportation, or even the water used in the recycling process, provided the bottle is even recycled (the majority of the world’s plastic water bottles actually end up in landfill or in the ocean).

Stay hydrated by toting your own reusable water bottle, or, carrying a super-minimalist crushable cup.

2. Try Meatless Any Day

While that ground sirloin burger may taste pretty good, there’s no reason to chow down on it as if it were a salad (i.e. daily). Switching to a meatless menu saves resources: it takes 15,400 litres of water to produce 1 kg of boneless beef (think: growing grains and roughage, drinking water for the cattle, and water used in the slaughter and meat-packaging process). By comparison, it takes 2,500 litres of water to produce a kilogram of rice, or just 1,830 litres of water to produce a kilogram of wheat.

Going veg full-time is a great solution, but admittedly not for everyone. You can cut your water footprint by going meat-free one or more days a week, and by swapping conventional supermarket meat for pasture-raised meats, especially lamb and chicken, which use less water to produce.

3. Use Less…

  • Start by reducing how much water you use at home.
  • Meal plan so you throw out less uneaten and spoiled food (which costs you money while wasting the water used in food production).
  • Install low-flow shower-heads, faucet aerators, and water-conserving toilets.
  • Turn off the taps when you brush your teeth, shave or wash your face.
  • Only fill your tea kettle halfway when making a cuppa (it’ll boil faster too, saving you energy).
  • And – procrastinators rejoice – don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until they are completely full. Check out this article for more easy household water-saving tips.

4. …and Repurpose More

Repurpose as much water as you can: Collect rainwater in barrels for your garden. Save the water used in baths, boiling veggies or pasta, or left in your reusable water bottle at the end of the day, and use it to water houseplants. Try the Bucket Flush (read on below)!

5. Try a Toilet Hack

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, toilets are the single largest water user in Canadian households. You can reduce your water usage by upgrading to a low-flow, water-conserving toilet. But for next-level water conservation measures in the loo, consider these two – admittedly unconventional – strategies:

The Bucket Flush: Keep a bucket handy to collect runoff water as you run a faucet waiting for it to heat up or cool down. You can also use it to collect wastewater from washing veggies or fruit. Bring this bucket into the bathroom, and pour it into the toilet bowl to flush with repurposed water.

Strategic Flushing: Don’t flush every time you go. That’s right: the ol’ “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down” approach.

Maybe save these techniques for when you don’t have company staying in your home.


We want to hear from you: Yay or nay on these water-saving techniques? And what’s your fave water-saving hack?

Want to learn more about the hidden water we consume every day? Check out

Yuki Hayashi

Author Yuki Hayashi

Yuki Hayashi is a health and fitness writer whose writing has appeared in Women’s Running, Canadian Living, Chatelaine, and other publications. An avid runner and triathlete, she is an Ironman finisher, and enjoys road races ranging from 5K to marathons. She’s a volunteer coach with a youth running group, and in her spare time (what spare time?!) loves cooking, hiking and traveling to outdoor-adventure destinations.

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