If you live in California, there’s a good chance that by summer, you’ll be required to conserve 20 percent of your water because of drought conditions. Where I live, there are no drought warnings, but I need to remember that all of the water that goes down the drain in my home has to go to a treatment plant to get cleaned and put back into the system. That takes a lot of resources and energy to do.

The kitchen is one of the rooms in your home where you use a lot of water. Some simple conservation methods can help you save water from going down the drain needlessly. Most of them won’t cost you a dime, and several of them will save you a few.

Washing dishes

There is a big debate about whether doing dishes by hand or in a dishwasher conserves more water. No matter how you choose to do your dishes, be smart about it.

If you wash by hand:

  • Fill your sink with just enough water to do the job
  • Don’t allow the water to run continuously while you’re rinsing. Only run it when there are dishes under the faucet.
If you use a dishwasher
  • Don’t pre-rinse your dishes if you don’t need to.
  • Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load.
  • Use the shortened wash cycle.
Cooking water

Reuse the water that you cook vegetables and pasta. Here's how: 

  • Use it to water indoor and outdoor plants, making sure it has cooled first.
  • If you’re going to use a garbage disposal, pour your cooking water in it while its on instead of using fresh water.
Other ideas
  • Capture cold water from the faucet as you’re waiting for the water to get hot. Keep it in a pitcher in the fridge for drinking water or to use as cooking water.
  • Install a low-flow faucet.
  • Make sure your faucets or pipes aren’t leaking. If they are, repair them.
  • Start a compost pile instead of putting scraps down the garbage disposal and using water to dispose of them.
  • Plan your meals so you don’t end up defrosting food in water at the last minute. Pull food out of freezer 24 hours ahead of time and allow to defrost in the fridge .
What am I missing? What other ways can we conserve water in the kitchen?

Image: Randy Son of Robert 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Conserve water in the kitchen
Californians are being asked to conserve water. Maybe we all should do it.