How can Islanders save 77 Million Gallons of Water this Year?

With summer underway, some islanders are already feeling the heat-and the drought. Some wells are already being starved of fresh water, which makes the rainy autumn season seem a long way off. As climate change affects our region, including our water tables, adopting climate resilient strategies for a sustainable future is critical. Islanders can do their part by conserving resources from water, to food, to energy. This April many islanders did just that, joining Friends in doing  “Just One” earth friendly activity a day, to see how making simple changes can add up to significant resource conservation.

Over 50 islanders, including students, took on the Earth Month challenge in April to help make the San Juan Islands a healthy, resilient, and thriving community. Citizens tracked their actions, and Friends quantified the results. By doing things like walking instead of driving, taking shorter showers, shopping locally, replacing red meat with vegetables or chicken, and unplugging electrical strips when not in use, participants led the way in making our Island community more sustainable. This exercise revealed that large changes begin with small actions that, when shared across a community can have dramatic effects.

Extrapolating the Results:

  • Islanders shortened their showers to 5 minutes or less 153 times, saving roughly 1,009 gallons of water. If all 16,000 islanders take 5-minute showers instead of the average 11 minutes, the island community would save roughly 77 million gallons of water per year, resulting in fuller aquifers and wells year round.
  • Islanders made 214 trips by foot or bike instead of by car. If 1 out 10 people switched to an alternative form of transportation, CO2 emissions would drop by 25.4 million tons per year.
  • Islanders substituted chicken, fish, and veggies for beef 259 times. If all US citizens chose a vegetarian diet- it is equivalent to removing 46 million cars from the road.
  • Islanders shopped locally 112 times.  If every family in Mount Vernon metro area spent $10 a month at a local store $3,632,261 would feed back into the community.

Several Earth-month participants were randomly selected and awarded prizes for their effort. Chuck and Rita O’Clair of San Juan Island won dinner to Mike’s Café and Wine Bar and to Aiyanna O’Prussack won a youth play pack (featured picture). “We applaud these community heroes for leading the way toward sustainability,” stated Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of Friends.    

To learn more about Friends of the San Juans, visit or call 360-378-2319.

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I want the beach to be able to be here for my grandchildren… for my nieces, nephews, and godchildren. That’s when we made the decision to contact Friends of the San Juans.

Mariluz Villa

member, Brown Island