How can we cut water waste in the workplace?

Population growth, water-hungry modern lifestyles and climate change mean that even a relatively damp country like the UK regularly experiences water shortages. Most of us don’t have much of an incentive to reduce our water use, particularly at work, as our supply is unmetered and unmeasured. But clean water is a precious resource, and enormous amounts of energy are used to purify it, transport it and deal with water waste. Most workplaces could reduce their water use by as much as 30% with free or low-cost measures, many of which are just a question of changing habits. 

Things you can do now

  • Report leaks and drips and chase up progress on getting them fixed. A tap dripping twice a second wastes 10,000 litres over the course of a year.
  • Ask your water company for leaflets, posters and stickers and run a water-saving awareness campaign to make sure people turn off taps and use water responsibly.
  • Older toilet tanks will use 8-13 litres per flush. Installing a simple ‘hippo’ water-saving device in the cistern can cut water use immediately and dramatically.
  • Urinals often flush automatically all day and night. Ask whether they can be switched off at night or at weekends.

Bigger ideas

  • Installing mains-supply water coolers instead of bottled water coolers could cut costs and waste.
  • Some low-cost changes to bathrooms can make a big difference. Installing spray-nozzle taps or foam soap dispensers have both been shown to reduce the amount of water used for hand washing.
  • If your employer is looking at refitting bathrooms, push for water efficiency to be a priority. New cisterns use less water anyway, but there’s lots of water-saving technology available, from push button taps to waterless urinals.

You’ll find more ideas on saving water in the TUC’s Go Green at Work handbook (PDF, 1.7MB).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.