Water is a necessity of life, and one we often take for granted. Every time we open the tap water pours out for coffee, our shower, and our garden so we don’t often reflect on where all this water comes from or what the future holds for our water. And the future holds many challenges. The world’s rising population, climate change, and economic growth are stressing our water supplies, with big problems down the road for millions if not billions of people. Our water tap may seem so small and distant from the global water supply that it feels like there’s little we can do about these larger problems. But we can. Every step we take makes a difference, starting in our home and our own backyard with projects like those outlined in the book Backyard Skills, A D.I.Y. Handbook from The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano.
In Southern California most people have heard about steps like low flow shower heads, low flow toilets, and restrictions on car washing and watering your lawn. But there’s much more you can do, like the projects in Backyard Skills.
Backyard Skills spells out 19 fun, easy, and green projects we can each do ourselves with our own hands to help deliver environmental solutions like water conservation. Backyard Skills gives you plans to save water from your washing machine, using the greywater to water your garden, and lays out plans to build your own rain garden, landscaping your backyard to keep water from running off and using it to water your own plants. And with the rain barrel project you can save the rain that falls on your roof, making a difference for a long time to come.
If you’re in the Orange County area, you can also explore these projects in person at The Ecology Center at one of their upcoming Backyard Skills workshops. The greywater workshop held on April 2 walked people through recycling water from your washer to water your garden, and the drought tolerant landscaping workshop on May 7 takes another step in the water-saving challenge.
For those who want to go even farther, there are plenty of opportunities to save throughout our daily lives. The average Southern Californian consumes 1800 gallons per day, some of it in surprising ways. One pound of beef requires 1200 gallons of water to produce and making a laptop can consume 40,000 gallons of water.
There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do. So give your water another look and give the Backyard Skills book a look if you get a chance. By taking a little bit of time with easy do it yourself projects like those in Backyard Skills, we can each take the first step to building a better future for ourselves, our kids, our communities, and our world.
Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses” and “Starting Green”, and the founder of Starting Up Green, helping green businesses to sprout and to thrive.