13 best ways to save water

97.5% of the world’s water is locked in seas and oceans, too salty for human use. And most of the remaining 2.5% is in the ice caps.

So we humans depend on the tiny bit available as fresh water – an essential natural resource for life. That's why we need to ensure water is kept free from pollutants and save water where we can.

But we don't just use water for drinking. We wash in it, clean with it, and use it to produce everything from clothing to food. Crop production – including feed for livestock and biofuels – is putting a great strain on fresh water supplies, and sewage and agricultural run-off are plaguing are rivers and lakes.

Save water, save our planet

Our water comes from rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

Climate breakdown is one of the biggest drivers of water shortages and is expected to heap even more pressure on our depleting supplies. People in England are facing shortages by 2050 unless we save water fast – according to the UK Environment Agency.

What's more, pollutants like sewage and farm run-off are causing havoc in rivers and lakes, like Lake Windermere in Cumbria (pictured). In 2023 alone, 440,000 hours of sewage was released along England's coastline. 

Green algae bloom at the side of a lake by a wooden pontoon

4. Call for a new law

We can each do our small bit to save water at home, but we need to be able to hold polluters accountable for damaging our rivers, lakes and seas. In 2023, sewage was poured into the UK's waterways 1,000 times a day.  

Friends of the Earth is calling for a new law that would force polluters to clean up their act: the Right to a Healthy Environment. 

Sewage flowing from a pipe into the sea

5. Time your gardening

Water outdoor plants in the early morning or at the end of the day to stop water immediately evaporating in sunlight and heat. Water the soil so that the liquid goes straight to the roots, where it’s needed.

In a heatwave, animals need water too. Instead of watering your lawn, leave out a water-filled container, like a casserole dish, for birds to drink from and wash. Thirsty bees and other insects will need a saucer or bowl with water and stones in it.

A group of children watering the plants

13. Quality and seasonal eating

Rearing animals for meat and dairy and harvesting crops like avocado at a large and unsustainable scale is incredibly water-intensive. By cutting down on meat and dairy and eating seasonal vegetables you'll be helping to save water.

You'll also be helping to protect the climate. The meat and dairy industries are big contributors to global warming.

Food and drink on outdoor table

Friends of the Earth is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network. Do they work near you?

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