Green Office – Conserving Water

Green Office is a blog series written by TAS’s Community and Partnership Coordinator that tells the story of how we are reducing our impact by focusing on waste reduction, energy and water use, personal health, and transportation.

When you’re at the office, conserving water may be the last thing on your mind. It’s hardly a place where you use vast quantities, unless you are really serious about staying hydrated. But the truth is there’s no better place to form good “green” habits than where you spent upwards of eight hours a day.

In TAS’ third month of Green Team activities, (see our previous efforts here and here), we learned that to fully realize our potential it was necessary to broaden our interpretation of the term “water conservation”.

Human beings use water in both direct and indirect ways. Direct uses refer to things like washing dishes, doing laundry, showering, and brushing our teeth. Minimizing our direct use of water is as simple as developing good habits like turning off the tap when we brush our teeth, shortening showers, and only running the dishwasher when it is full.

However, people also indirectly use water in ways they may not be aware. Because water is used for manufacturing goods and growing food, practically everything you use has a water footprint. In fact, some indirect uses of water can dwarf direct use of water on a daily basis.

Take meat production for instance. That hamburger you had for lunch on Tuesday is responsible for the use of over 600 gallons of fresh water [1]. Why? Beef production is very water-intensive due to the agricultural production of grain for the animal’s food [2]. Compare this water usage to a salad of lettuce, tomato, and carrots, which results in the use of a little over 30 gallons of water from farm to fork [1].

Check out this great infographic on direct and indirect water usage here.

Recognizing that water conservation goes well beyond simply “turning off the tap” was a key part of building our awareness to become better water citizens at the office and at home. In addition to the “personal pledges” we take each month to adopt water-conservation habits into our daily lives, we’ve committed to a number of office-wide practices to minimize our water-related impact: only running the dishwasher when full, purchasing non-toxic cleaning products, and not purchasing bottled water – offering carbon-filtered tap water to staff and guests instead.

Up next for the TAS Green Team is a focus on “creating a healthy workplace” with activities that aim to reduce the amount of toxins we are exposed to during the workday, thus minimizing the impact on our bodies and the environment. Stay tuned.

[1] http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/trans0309walkthisway.html

[2] http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1.pdf