Help the environment by reducing your water use today

(BPT) – The temperature isn’t the only thing rising during the summertime – your outdoor water use is probably rising as well. And, unfortunately, so can water waste.

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research shows that homeowners typically use 30 to 70 percent of their water outdoors, depending on the region. While the average family uses 320 gallons of water per day, water use in the summer can spike up to 1,000 gallons per day, primarily due to lawn and landscape watering.

Yet not all of that water winds up where homeowners intend. In fact, 50 percent of water used outdoors goes to waste because of evaporation and wind or runoff caused by overwatering, according to EPA.

How you can make watering more efficient?

Conserving water, and protecting the environment, can be easier than you think and more affordable too. Water-saving technologies made with plastics can deliver water more precisely while still maintaining – and even enhancing – yards and gardens. Here are a few examples:

* Drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation systems use thin, flexible polyethylene plastic drip tubing and are laid on the ground near plants. Water is delivered through tiny holes in the tubing. A much more precise method than typical sprinklers, drip irrigation can reduce evaporation and runoff and deliver water more directly to plants’ roots. Due to polyethylene’s flexibility, drip irrigation systems can be used for irrigating irregularly shaped or narrow areas and fitted to the contours of landscaped areas.

* Soaker hoses. A polyvinyl chloride plastic soaker hose delivers water conservatively to roots and plants. The water seeps through thousands of tiny holes along the length of the hose, allowing for efficient watering. Gardeners often layer mulch over the hose to further focus the water on the roots.

Using the power of nature

A rainstorm provides water to your yard—now it’s up to you to catch excess water for later use.

To do so, source water from the roof with rain barrels. These large, durable containers are typically made of vinyl or polyethylene plastics and even recycled plastics. The barrels collect and store rain from a home’s gutters that can later be used to water outdoor areas, a budget-friendly option that benefits the environment.

Water-saving lawns and play areas

Some homeowners are taking water conservation a step further by eliminating all or parts of their lawn, replacing it with innovative landscapes that require little or no water including:

* Synthetic lawns. Modern synthetic grass and lawns are similar to the synthetic turf that has been used for decades in sports stadiums. Each individual blade of grass is made from plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene or nylon – even recycled plastics – to mimic the soft but sturdy texture of natural grass. This turf eliminates the need for watering, although you may use a hose to clean it occasionally.

* Playground rubber mulch. Rubber mulch typically is made from worn out, unusable plastic tires that are chopped into cushioning mulch or reformatted into durable mats. The material provides a soft surface for play areas that is made from recycled resources, requires little maintenance and needs no watering – all of which lighten the environmental footprint of this lawn option.

Don’t forget the pool

Evaporation can rob pools of lots of water. But there’s an easy solution in using plastic pool covers that provide a barrier between the water and the air to help reduce water lost to evaporation. Some covers even act as electricity-free solar water heaters by trapping heat from the sun, much like a greenhouse. So plastic pool covers can help save both pool water and heating costs.

Instituting water-conservation practices on your property is easier than you think, and summer is the perfect time to make the change. Complete any of the tasks above and you’ll enjoy water savings not just this season but all year long.

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