Seven ways to green your water

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- In recognition of Earth Day which was April 22, learn how to green your water. 

It seems as though everywhere we turn these days, the idea of being green is center stage. Companies are eager to promote their green products; friends and neighbors strive to live a green lifestyle. But I'd like to discuss another color: blue. 

Water, so essential to life on this planet, is our single most precious resource, and already there is not enough of it to go around. Even for those of us for whom access to water is merely a matter of turning on a tap, water is a critical issue. Pollution from industrial and household contaminants threatens water supplies, while shortages in parts of the U.S. have led to rationing in many heavily populated areas, including our own here. Clearly, we also need a "Blue Revolution." Toward that end, here are eight simple steps you can take to green your water use: 

1. Change Your Mind-set
One of the easiest ways to start greening your water use is to rethink the water you flush, wash and drink as a finite resource. Following two easy rules will provide for cleaner, more abundant water wherever you are:
1. If you aren't using it, turn it off.
2. If you don't want to drink it, don't put it down the drain. In most cases, the substances we pour down our drains and the water we drink are closely connected. 

2. Check Out Your Water Footprint
Waterfootprint.org has a calculator that can help you determine how water-intensive your lifestyle is. 

3. Give a Hoot
It's a timeless classic, but Woodsy Owl only had it half right when he said not to pollute. Consider what you throw away, since toxins have a tendency to leach out of landfills and pollute groundwater sources. Make sure nothing dangerous or toxic ends up in your next glass of water by properly disposing of and recycling your trash.

4. Watch Out for that Bottle
It takes more water to make the plastic bottle than the bottle itself provides. And even though these water sources are pretty much the same as what comes from your tap,
they charge up to 1,900 times the price of tap water - bad news for wallet, health and environment alike. Purchase a reusable bottle that you can take with you on-the-go. 

5. Go With the Low-Flow
Turn off the water when you brush and shave, taking shorter showers and flushing judiciously. If you haven't already done so, consider installing a low-flow shower head, an aerator on your sink and a low-flow toilet. These efforts can reduce your household
water use by up to 50 percent. 

6. Green Thumb, Blue Thumb
Lawn care is both a big consumer and polluter of water. Try to grow vegetation that is suited for your climate and won't require tons of extra watering. Some grasses are more drought-resistant than others and nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from home lawn fertilizers can end up in our water supplies. 

7. An (Auto)Motive for Improvement
Consider that one gallon of motor oil can contaminate a million gallons of water. If you change your own oil, be sure to take your old oil and filter to a service station where it can be recycled. You can also save water by not leaving the hose running when you wash your car. 

One of the many things that connect us as humans is our need for water. If we work together to preserve and expand this finite and precious resource, we will guarantee ourselves a healthier, wealthier and tastier water future.