How To Conserve Water When Travelling

Posted: May 8, 2013

Want to be a responsible traveller? Then learn how to conserve water and reduce your water footprint when travelling!

By Kirti

TA_LogoThis article was originally published at The Alternative – an online publication on social change and sustainable living.

All your bags are packed and you’re ready to go. The beaches and the hills can’t wait any longer. Or can they?

The answer depends solely on what kind of a traveller you are. If you are like a bad boss whose absence makes the heart grow fonder, they’d rather not see you. Most of us are like the bad boss. But you can wash your past sins with responsible travelling. Here are some tips that teach you how to conserve water when travelling:

Responsible travel tip 1Responsible Travel Tip 1: Carry your own water bottle

Your mineral water plastic bottles are not decorative enough for the beaches or the hills. Nor do they come cheap. Be possessive about your water bottle and take it along. Lighten the load on the environment and your pocket.

Responsible Travel Tip 2: Reuse towels

Do you change your towel every day at home? Then, why do you at the hotel? Yes, they have housekeeping staff and yes, they don’t charge you extra for daily fresh towels. But it doesn’t come free. The environment pays the price of the extra detergent and the extra water used to wash towels daily.

Responsible Travel Tip 3: Sing in the bathroom, minus the waterworks

So Beyonce is not a patch on you. Okay, but must you keep the water running when crooning into the shower faucet? How much sound magnification does an audience of one need really? Shut the faucet. Test your vocal cords instead.

Responsible Travel Tip 2Responsible Travel Tip 4: Give the bathtub a rest

You’re not Cleopatra, you don’t need a daily soak in the hotel tub. Of course, you are on a holiday and an occasional indulgence can be forgiven. But do remember that each soak in the tub costs as much as 300 litres of water! Don’t jump into the tub daily. Use the swimming pool instead.

Responsible Travel Tip 5: Shower together

Only with your romantic partner, though. Your friends may not appreciate you sneaking into the shower with them. But what’s more romantic than a shower together? But while performing other romantic activities, do remember to turn the faucet off.

Responsible Travel Tip 6: Lakes are not trash cans

They don’t look like one either, do they? Then, what gave you the idea that the empty pack of crisps belongs in it? Treat lakes, rivers and ponds with the respect they deserve. Water doesn’t wash down all the trash.

Responsible travel tipResponsible Travel Tip 7: Try homestays

Live in the homes of rural folks. They will not only give you a peek into their wonderful culture and lives but also show you how to be nicer to nature. Boiled tap water hasn’t killed them, why would it kill you?

Responsible Travel Tip 8: Learn from the locals

Eat the local produce. More resources and efforts are required to bring exotic stuff to your plate and to grow vegetables that are not endemic to a region. If it’s the same food you want everywhere, why leave home base at all?

Responsible Travel Tip 9: Load up on local food

Different foods have different water footprints, which is the total amount of water, external and internal, required to produce it. The water footprint of foods such as mutton or beef is way more than that of chicken. A mango has a much larger water footprint than an orange (See table).

Vegetarian foods have lower water footprints than non-vegetarian and dairy foods. Of course, you can’t be expected to change your palate. But if the fish curry looks as tempting as the beef chilly fry, opt for the former.

TABLE
Here’s a list of some of the popular food items and their water footprints.

Food item            Water footprint

Responsible travel tip 10

Lettuce                    57 litre a pound
Tomatoes                83 litre a pound
Cabbage                  91 litre a pound
Cucumber             106 litre a pound
Potatoes                 114 litre a pound
Oranges                 208 litre a pound
Apples                     314 litre a pound
Bananas                 386 litre a pound
Wheat bread         583 litre a pound
Mango                     719 litre a pound
Groundnut          1393 litre a pound
Rice                        1525 litre a pound
Eggs                       2169 litre a pound
Chicken                3085 litre a pound
Cheese                   3391 litre a pound
Pork                       6170 litre a pound
Butter                   7737 litre a pound
Beef           9464-18927 litre a pound
Tea                         30 litre per 250 ml
Milk                      250 litre per 250 ml 

Responsible Travel Tip 10: Choose your foods wisely

City-slickers are a pampered lot. Let the locals of your holiday destination show you how to live without using more than your fair share of natural resources. Observe them and their surroundings. You just might learn a thing or two about fuss-free yet innovative ways to save water.

Responsible Travel Tip 11: Choose eco-friendly lodges and hotels

A simple Web search can give you many to choose from. They harvest rainwater, use solar lamps and geysers, and stay on nature’s good side. As demand for them rises, more hotels will be forced to opt for these practices. The more, the merrier.

Mother Nature is generous but she’s also vindictive. She’ll make you pay for your water abuse someday. Wake up before that and become a responsible traveller. Leave behind only memories at your holiday destination, not water footprints.

Catch Every Drop is a campaign on sustainable water conservation by The Alternative, sponsored by Arghyam, with partners India Water Portal and Biome Environmental Solutions.

Whether it is the Cauvery river dispute, the unregulated proliferation of bore wells or the death of Bangalore’s beautiful lakes, everyone has a story, an opinion or a question on water. While most people understand and recognize the importance of saving water, not everyone knows how to do it, or even what exactly they can do.

‘Catch Every Drop’ is a showcase of stories of pioneering water conservation work done by corporates, lake restoration groups, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and individuals in Bangalore. These stories, we hope, will inspire you to join this growing community of people who truly care about water, our planet’s most precious resource.

This information has been put together with the help of Biome Environmental Solutions and adapted by Kirti Pandey.

*Featured image credit: blaackhawk.
*Woman drinking water photo credit: lusi.
*Bathroom photo credit: Roger Kirby.
*Fruits photo credit: nazreth.
*Homestay photo credit: peterwurst44 (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

About The Author: Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books.

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