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Waste Not
'Stop Hogging All the Water, Save Some for Wildlife'

Bad news: You might be a water hog. Americans use more water per person than anyone else in the world – 27 billion gallons every day. Unfortunately, it is the river systems, lakes and wetlands and the wildlife of those habitats that suffer the most as a result of reckless water consumption. A new campaign is trying to call attention to the issue, engage people, and help them learn how to save water for wildlife.

“It’s easy to forget that every time you turn on the tap, that water is coming from rivers, lakes and streams that wildlife depend on,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The reality is that water is a finite resource, and careless human water consumption is altering our ecosystems, destroying natural habitats and sapping water sources for birds, fish, mammals and other wildlife.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, supported by Levi Strauss & Co., launched “Don’t Be a Drip,” a campaign with an interactive map of the counties with the highest water use, an infographic showing the water footprint of common household activities, and shareable images featuring endangered species.

Water Hog infographic

The interactive map provides information on these and other “water hog” counties, including the amount of water used there per day, a brief profile of local water use, and a list of species threatened by excessive water use. For example, Seattle’s water comes from the Cedar River and Tolt River watersheds, so residents of King County are helping local populations of Coho salmon, steelhead trout, bald eagles, marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and northern goshawks when they reduce their shower time or fix leaks in their plumbing. Meanwhile, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta provides habitat for 20 endangered species, making Riverside County water consumption especially harmful to Delta smelt, Lange’s metalmark butterflies, Salt Marsh harvest mice, California red-legged frogs, other species, and a major salmon migration path.

The Colorado River, which is also home to several endangered species, supplies water to six of the top 10 “Water Hog states:” Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, and California (plus New Mexico). Historic drought and high populations are straining the river to alarmingly low levels.

The shareable images from Don’t Be a Drip draw attention to these connections between human action and animal habitat, with lines including “I flush less to save coho salmon,” “I take shorter showers for the sandhill crane,” and “I eat less meat for the San Joaquin kit fox.”

“For many of us, running the shower or leaving the water on when washing the dishes has become an unconscious habit,” said Michael Kobori, Levi Strauss & Co.’s vice president of sustainability. “We want consumers to realize that every wasted drop of water down the drain negatively impacts countless ecosystems. This campaign aims to remind consumers to wake up and turn off their autopilot behaviors.”

Levi’s has said more thoughtful clothing care could have saved Californians 35 billion liters (over 9.2 billion gallons) of water. The company itself has saved more than 1 billion liters through its Water<LessTM finishing process.


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