With Earth Day 2011 just a few weeks away, local environmentalists say you don't have to wait until April 22 to do something good to help save the planet.
Andy Stewart, executive director of West Nyack-based Keep Rockland Beautiful, says you can make a contribution toward Earth Day by taking a look at how you use water at home.
“We all know the county faces a serious concern over water supplies,” said Stewart. “What falls out of the sky is what we’ve got. All of us should be doing what we can to preserve a precious resource.”
He recommends Rockland County residents adopt a water conserving approach both outside and inside their homes. There are five fairly simple actions people can implement which will benefit them and the environment.
#1 “Starting from the beginning use caution in the size of the lawn,” Stewart says. Instead of thinking the lawn needs to consist of well-watered green grass only, consider shrubs, perennial flowers and plants and more naturalized habitat areas. “People should try to increase the amount of space dedicated to natural settings,” he says.
#2 Use less water on the lawn, it does not have to be a “green carpet.” Invest in a rain gauge or sensor that is connected to the automatic sprinkler system. The sensor measures the moisture level of the lawn and prevents it from being unnecessarily watered while it is raining or if it is already saturated.
#3 Experiment with using a rain barrel to collect water coming off the roof of the house. Rainwater can be redirected to the barrel, into a drip irrigation system that distributes the water to where it is needed or to a rain garden.
#4 Reduce the volume of water used inside the house. Purchase a shower timer to help limit the number of minutes spent under the running water. There are different types available. The most basic ones attach to the shower wall with suction cups and work like an hourglass or egg timer. Automated shower timers require installation and are preset to either reduce the water flow after a set amount of time or shut off the shower completely.
#5 Invest in low flow faucets for the kitchen and bathroom and a low flow or dual flush toilet. Replace outdated appliances with new reduced water usage appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.
Stewart says the reduction in water usage will add up over time. Water and money will be saved. The key to successfully cutting back water usage is to establish a built-in process such as plantings, a rain gauge or shower timer.
“The important thing is to have a system in place. If you build it in then you don’t have to think about it,” says Stewart. “Things that become automatic are the most effective over time.”