Ali Nazemi is an Associate Professor at the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec. As a hydrologist with a civil engineering background, his areas of expertise are in the mathematical modeling of water systems, water security and climate change. He and his research team extensively publish in these areas with relevance to real-world water and climate issues in Canada and globally. He serves as the Editorial Board Member on a number of scientific journals including Scientific Reports and Scientific Data. Apart from water and the nature that surrounds it, he’s interested in good music, good people and good thoughts.
Dan Kraus is the Senior Conservation Biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s national office. He’s an expert on Canadian biodiversity and conservation and has recently written reports on a variety of topics including Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas in Canada. Dan co-authored biodiversity conservation strategies for all four Canadian Great Lakes, co-led the first conservation assessment of Great Lakes islands, and prepared the State of the Great Lakes indicator on aquatic habitat connectivity. He often shares his passion about nature and the importance of conservation, and his editorials have appeared in media across Canada. Dan lives at the headwaters of Bronte Creek in the Lake Ontario watershed where he enjoys chopping wood and raising happy chickens.
Did you know the average Canadian uses more water than any other country in the list? On average, a typical Canadian uses 29.1 cubic metres of water a year – enough to fill 40 hot tubs, or 200 bathtubs! In comparison, the average American only uses 22.6 cubic metres of water a year – that’s over 6,400 litres less than the average Canadian!
The top countries in the world for domestic water consumption are:
Water footprint of national consumption per capita (m3/yr/cap)
United Arab Emirates
Whether it’s the Great Lakes or the three bodies of ocean that surround us, Canadians are lucky enough to enjoy an abundance of water. Not to mention we play host to a quarter of the world’s waterbodies – a larger proportion than any other nation. Unfortunately, we also consume water at extremely high rates. It’s up to each of us to become better aware of how we’re using – and wasting – water, and doing our bit to reduce our consumption as much as possible. Together, we can help protect our resources and build a more sustainable world.
Motivated to make a change? Here are some tips to help you drive that number down!
Skipping the pre-rinse is one of the most effective ways of saving water. Your dishwasher and a good detergent like the Finish® Quantum® Ultimate™ Dishwasher Tablets should be all you need to get your dishes sparkling clean. Just remember to scrape any large food pieces off first.
Make sure to check your dishwasher regularly for leaks in the water pipes to keep it in top shape! If you don’t have a dishwasher, keep a bucket of water in the sink and place your dishes there immediately after use. This extra soaking time will save on the washing up time later.
Every drop counts so try to take a short shower if possible. Half of the water in the shower is wasted while we’re shampooing or washing our bodies, so turn the water off while you’re getting soapy! It can also be effective to switch to efficient shower heads. If your showerhead was installed before 1996, you may be wasting up to 20 litres of water per minute! Make the switch to start saving water immediately.
It goes without saying that filling a full tub of water isn’t a water saving approach! But, try to think of baths as a treat rather than a habit. Stop running the tap when your tub is three-quarters full – or even half full – so you don’t spill water when you step in. If you absolutely can’t go without a regular bath session, consider getting a smaller tub instead.
The toilet flush accounts for a massive 30% of total household water use. Use it only for the purposes it was designed for. This means not using it as a bin to flush away dental floss or tissues. Switch to an efficient toilet, get a smaller flush tank, and if you can use recycled water for flushing. For example, if you usually run the water in the shower while it gets up to temperature, capture this water in a bucket and use that to fill the flush tank.
When washing vegetables, utensils or dinnerware, don’t let the water run. In fact, it’s actually more hygienic to soak veggies in water rather than running them under the tap to wash them. Get an aerator for your tap so it uses less water. It’s also important to check for water leaks – not to mention fixing a leaking tap as soon as possible (not least to stop it making that excruciating dripping noise!).
Whether you’re shaving, washing your face or brushing your teeth, don’t let the water run. Get an aerator for your tap so it uses less water. You might also want to switch to an automated tap where it runs on only when your hand is under the tap. Make sure to check for leaky pipes in the bathroom, too!
Very few people wash their clothes by hand now, and this is good news for water saving! As long as you’re not under- or over-filling your machine, the washing machine is the best way to help save water when washing clothes. Make sure you have a modern machine so it’s both water and energy efficient. Check the appliance regularly for leaks. You might not need to wash your clothes as often as you think, either. Unless you’re incredibly active, most clothing will last for several wears before it needs to be washed. Skip the extra rinse at the end of the wash too – think of it as a luxury bonus for some of your clothes, rather than a must!
Here’s how we calculated your consumption. We used the Water-Energy-Climate Calculator by the Pacific Institute to find the litres-per-minute water consumption for each activity listed. As the Calculator uses gallons, the figures were converted to litres by multiplying by 3.785. We then multiplied the litres-per-minute figure by the number of minutes you indicated you spent on each task. When it comes to dishwashing, we’ve maintained a focus on individual consumption by asking about the number of times your dishwasher is loaded and the number of minutes you spend washing dishes, regardless of how many people are in the household.
We also gathered two types of consumption figures from the Pacific Institute’s Calculator. Efficient consumption figures, based on you having an efficient, updated, or enhanced appliance installed, and inefficient consumption figures based on none of these measures being applicable for your appliances. The total consumption is tailored to account for these variations based on the answers you provide. The numbers for the pre-rinse and dishwasher usage is taken from our own independent research, as found in other pages on our site.
Our tool also has water usage figures for people in other countries around the world. We got that data from the Water Footprint Network’s ‘Water Footprints of National Consumption (1996-2005)’ report published in 2011.