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11 Easy Ways To Conserve Water During The California Drought

For the first time in recorded history, San Francisco got zero rain this January, and the state drought is nearing its fourth year. Here are some simple, unexpected ways you can help save the H20.

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1. Reuse your pasta water.

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First of all, you can use at LEAST 1/3 less water in your pasta pot than called for by the instructions on the box. But you can actually re-boil the water at least one or two more times (any more than that and it might get too starchy.) But never just pour your post-pasta H2O down the sink; use it to water your plants instead.

2. Use the "iTunes method" of taking shorter showers.

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Before you get into the shower, start playing a song on your phone and challenge yourself to finish showering before the song ends. (No cheating by using "American Pie" or "Bohemian Rhapsody"!)

3. Only ask for water in a restaurant if you're actually going to drink it.

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Many eco-conscious restaurants in California will only bring you water if you specifically ask for it. But how many times have you left a restaurant and left behind a full water glass? If you know you're going to mainly stick to your iced tea, Diet Coke or beer, let that fancy carafe of tap go to someone else.

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5. Don't use your garbage disposal.

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Garbage disposals can be good for the environment in that they save your food scraps from the landfill, but they also use a lot of water, which means they should be used sparingly during a drought. Instead, make your own compost bin!

6. Do less laundry.

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In times of drought, be prepared to let your laundry slack a bit. (Noooo problem here!) Your towels can all be used more than once, and don't wash your sheets and bedding as often as usual. And jeans? Everyone knows jeans never need to be washed and remain pristine and perfect throughout the dawn of time.

7. Soak your pots and pans in the sink instead of letting the water run continously while you scrub them.

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Same goes for washing fruits and vegetables!

8. Turn off the water in the shower while you shave your legs or face.

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One study found that Britons used more than 13 billion gallons of water per year shaving their legs in the shower. To save H20, turn off the water and then lather up. (You can keep a cup of water on a shower shelf to rinse your razor.)

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9. Only rinse or wash the dishes you need to.

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If you used a plate for a sandwich, say, and there are only a few breadcrumbs remaining — because of course you finished the whole sandwich, because sandwiches are delicious — just swipe the crumbs into the trash rather than soaping and rinsing it. (Pots used just for boiling water can often be reused without washing, too.)

10. Take the Dirty Car Challenge.

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The city of Ventura in Southern California is urging its residents to take the "Dirty Car Challenge," which involves, you guessed it, not washing your car as part of a mass effort to save water. Laziness as conservation? OK! (Remember to keep your windows clean so you can see.)

11. But if you have to wash your car, wash it at a professional car wash that recycles its water.

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Professional car washes use less water than you will with a hose at home. Look for an eco-friendly service center that recycles it water; a few in the Bay Area are Divisadero Touchless Car Wash, Eco Green Auto Clean in Redwood City and Clean Green in Oakland.