10 Simple Ways to Conserve Water in the Kitchen

Flickr member david.dames licensed under Creative Commons

With California finally getting some desperately needed rain, does this mean the drought is over? Unfortunately, no. It is essential that we continue to be mindful of our household water use, and the kitchen is a great place to do that. Small changes in daily habits can make a big difference, saving hundreds of gallons of water and lowering your utility bill in the process. 

Here are 10 simple steps you can take:

Washing dishes by hand: Turn off the tap and soak your dishes in the sink basin or a small tub of soapy water. Use a brush or sponge to dislodge food particles instead of relying on the force of running water. 

Using a dishwasher: Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load. Whenever possible, choose the quickest wash setting.

Cleaning fruits and vegetables: Rinse and scrub produce in a bowl of water instead of under the tap. Use the leftover water to water plants. 

Cooking vegetables: Water that you used to steam or boil vegetables can be reused in soups/stocks or to cook rice or pasta. Or cool the water and use it to water plants. 

Boiling pasta: Boil pasta in a smaller pot with less water, and then reuse the leftover water to feed plants (again, cool it to room temperature first). 

Making tea or coffee: Fill your kettle with only the amount of water you need. Bonus: boiling less water saves electricity or gas, too. 

Drinking water: Do you let the tap run to get cold water? Chill bottles or pitchers of tap water in the fridge. 

Defrosting food: Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator instead of a water bath. Note that you may need to plan ahead; a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts takes a day to thaw in the fridge. 

Disposing food waste: Garbage disposals may be convenient but they use a lot of water. Consider composting your food waste, instead. The City of Los Angeles offers free backyard composting workshops and discounted bins.

Updating your faucet: Adding an aerator to your kitchen faucet can cut water consumption by up to half. You can find aerators for a few bucks at hardware stores, or get them for free in the Energy Efficient Starter Kit from Southern California Gas Company. 

Got any more suggestions? Share them in the comments. 

About the Author

Emily Han (formerly Emily Ho) is a writer, recipe developer and educator on topics such as seasonal food, food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. She is author of Wild Drinks and Cocktails (Fall 2015) and founder of LA Food Swap.
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