How Much Water Does An American Use Per Day? Colgate's Super Bowl Ad Urges Us To Conserve

If you’ve ever brushed your teeth, you’re probably familiar with the Colgate brand, which is why it’s kind of surprising that this year will be the first time they have ever advertised in the coveted ad-Heaven that is the Super Bowl. To add another element of astonishment, the dental hygiene heavyweights are eschewing typical product-hawking in favor of an issue that should be of utmost importance to all of us: water conservation. The Colgate Super Bowl commercial really prompts viewers to think about how much water the average American citizen uses in a day.

Though the 30-second ad is a clipped version of a longer spot created by Y&R Peru for the brand last year, according to Ad Week, it conveys a very powerful message. The ad features a man switching on a faucet to brush his teeth, and letting the water run during the entirety of the ad while different sets of hands fill up a cup and a bowl, wash a dirty piece of fruit, and use the free flow of the spigot to drink from. The text at the end claims that by not turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, you are wasting 10 liters (or four gallons) of water — “That is more than many people in the world have in a month.” Watch the full ad below.

Colgate US on YouTube

To better understand Colgate's directive towards global water conservation, let's explore the average consumption of water by American citizens daily, as reported by the United States Geological Survey.

We Use 36 Gallons Per Bath


If you're anything like myself and love taking baths, this shocking number isn't just water under the bridge. The USGS website recommends that instead of drawing yourself a full bath, taking a shower saves a good amount of water. So perhaps let's stick to the bathing schedules of the Middle Ages, so we can really feel like royals when we indulge in a bath.

Old Showers Can Use Up To 5 Gallons Per Minute


The average shower length is 8.2 minutes according to HomeWaterWorks, but I know some guys and gals that can spend what feels like a century in the shower, so that adds up to be quite a lot of water wasted. One way the USGS recommends to cut down on water waste is to install a water-saving head, which flows about 2 gallons per minute instead. You could also, I don't know, take shorter showers — what are you even doing in there?!

Shaving Can Use 1 Gallon A Minute


So, switch off that tap if you're running it while you shave the hair you've accumulated in those dark winter months.

The Dishwasher Can Use 6-16 Gallons Per Wash Cycle...


Evidently, some newer models can use 6 gallons or less per cycle, which not only saves water, but also conserves electricity.

...While Handwashing Dishes Uses 8-27 Gallons.


If you aren't #blessed enough to own a dishwasher (like this girl), you do a lot of the dishes by hand, which the USGS says can be a problem if you aren't efficient enough. If you install an aerator in your faucet head and scrape food off, soak the dishes in a soapy basin beforehand, and not let water run while you wash every dish, then you should be able to save some more H2O. The website also suggests having two sinks to work with — "one with hot, soapy water and one with warm water for a rinse," so if you have room for that, go for it, but also invite me over because WHAT.

Old Washing Machines Use 40 Gallons Of Water Per Cycle.


Holy Guacamole, Batman, that's a lot of water being used to wash all of our socks. This is as good a reason as any to spring for a newer version of a washing machine.

Each Toilet Flush Uses 3 Gallons Of Water


Have you ever heard of the phrase "if it's yellow, it's mellow"? The practice of not flushing until there are, uh, more solids in the toilet bowl helps conserve water by limiting flushes, but so does making sure your toilet isn't leaky and adjusting the water level in the tank, as recommended by the USGS.

Every Glass Of Water You Drink Is Around 8 Ounces


So, while we all want to get our hydration on, it might be worth noting if you're wasting any that you didn't drink, and trying to pour yourself an amount you'll actually consume.

Watering The Lawn Uses 2 Gallons Per Minute


Anyone who has ever lived in an area afflicted by drought knows about the ordinances the government tries to implement in order to keep people from using too much water on landscape maintenance. Though we all love a beautiful garden or lawn, it may be worth a second thought on how many times those hydrangeas need a spray.

The ad is part of a broader campaign called #EveryDropCounts, which prompts viewers to implement the hashtag to express their willingness to save water when they brush their teeth. On a night filled with companies competing to make the biggest splash with their product, it's nice to see Colgate using their ad time to encourage better habits that will help the environment.

Image: Colgate US/YouTube