Water Conservation in the Kitchen: It’s More Important Than Ever


Everyone always talks about the kitchen being the center of the modern home and for obvious reasons, this makes us very happy. We love creating both functional and beautiful spaces that our clients can use and enjoy everyday, but what makes us even happier is when the space becomes an integral part of their lifestyle. However, the kitchen being the center of the home creates challenges that need to be addressed.

The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (followed closely by the kitchen — we’ll do another post on water conservation in the bathroom soon). Living in Southern California exacerbates this problem even further. We’ve all heard about the estimates from NASA that California only has 1-year of water left in its reservoirs, so it’s really time to do whatever we can possibly do in the face of a drought that shows no signs of letting up.

Some will argue that there are much larger forces at play here — such as farmers having unlimited access to groundwater that they are wasting with techniques like flood irrigation (when drip irrigation could work). Fracking operations that use tens of millions of gallons of water per year for what is truly a controversial energy extraction technique.

While I agree that these are all issues that need to be addressed, I’m also a pragmatist that knows that it won’t happen overnight. Local, state, and federal governments will drag their feet and push most of the burden on to the consumer. The positive side of this is that with simple techniques that don’t always require new appliances or hardware, we, the consumer can actually make a difference (overnight) — at least on the local level and even to our own finances.

I’ve put together a list of things that can be done just in the kitchen to save water. While it may not seem like a lot individually, multiply this by millions of people and that’s where the magic happens. Anyhow, on to the list:

1. Most newer dishwashers are very water efficient, using considerably less water than handwashing. In fact, many dishwasher companies discourage consumers from rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Rather, just scrape the dishes into your trash can and put them in. Run a full setting, using appropriate water and energy efficient settings.

2. When washing dishes by hand, turn the water off while you’re soaping up and scrubbing the dishes.

3. Use slightly less dish soap and put the dishes in a rack to rinse them all together to reduce the amount of time to be rinsed.

4. Steam your vegetables instead of boiling them. Boiling water in a pan uses 2 to 3 cups of water whereas steaming only takes a few ounces. Also, steamed vegetables are much healthier as you pour many of the beneficial nutrients down the drain when boiling.

5. When cooking, use only the amount of water required; this reduces the amount of water wasted when straining.

6. Do not defrost frozen food with running water. Use the microwave or defrost in the refrigerator.

Have I missed anything here? Share some of your favorite techniques on saving water in the comments below.

Image credit: Eric Norris