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No Impact Week, Day 6: Water

by Abbie Mood Oct 28, 2009
Matador U student and contributor Abbie Mood takes the No Impact Week Challenge.

In November of 2006, New York City resident Colin Beavan, along with his wife and daughter, set out to live with no net environmental impact.

Fast forward three years later, add the Huffington Post, and you have No Impact Week. According to the website, the goal is to “demonstrate ways in which small actions in our daily lives can have a profound impact on our world.” Together, they’ve provided a daily guide with steps you can take to lessen your impact over the course of a week. Each day has a different theme.

I’m joining over 4,000 people to take on this challenge to identify what impact my actions (or lack of action) are having, and to find out what areas of my lifestyle I can change to balance out my carbon footprint a bit more.

Day 6: Water

I was really surprised to find out the average American uses 1,189 gallons of water per day. You really don’t think about how much water is used with each flush of the toilet (4-7 gallons) or from brushing your teeth (about 2 gallons/day).

The first thing I did today was make a list of all the water I consume throughout the day (a general list, not specific amounts). I wrote down the basics: toilet flushing, tooth brushing, hand and face washing, showering, dishwashing, and then I looked at I realized that I needed to add every meal as well. And my clothing. And the book that I’m reading. Almost everything in our day has or does require water. It’s mind-boggling.

When I was in Cambodia, I couldn’t brush my teeth with the faucet water, so we used water from bottles. I was trying to conserve my bottled water, so I would brush my teeth with a carefully measured cup of water. It worked perfectly fine, so that’s definitely something I could implement at home.

Something that I am already doing that was also suggested in the No Impact Guide was to reuse the same glass throughout the day. Just rinse it out and keep using it instead of constantly washing it.

Some things that most of us have heard before: take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while you are brushing your teeth. But have you heard this one? “Only flush if you must!” When you do need to flush, use water saved in a bucket from your shower.

When you go to restaurants, only order water if you’re going to drink it. If you are going to drink it, go for tap water (bottled water is 1,000 times more expensive than tap water!). Drinking water also uses less energy to produce and transport than other processed beverages.

I’m almost done with No Impact Week! Tomorrow is my last day of action!

If you’d like to find out what your water footprint is, visit

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