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Reducing water usage is more than just a drop in the bucket

December 22, 2021

Advocating for low water consumption, and taking sustainable climate action.

With water and energy conservation top of mind, Sobeys has partnered with Ecolab, an energy resource company, on a new project aimed at reducing water consumption. Together, they will help Sobeys stores operate in a more efficient way when it comes to the usage of water – another important step toward reaching sustainability goals.

How Sobeys is reducing water in its stores

“At my location, Ecolab has changed eight sinks to low-flow aerators,” says Sheila Webber, a Safeway store manager in the Windermere neighbourhood of Edmonton, Alberta. “They’ve installed one low-flow spray valve in the produce department as well. That’s the part of the store that uses the most water – a high-impact area that is constantly washing and rinsing produce, and where water reduction will have the most impact.” she says. These updates include hand sinks as well as larger, multi-basin industrial sinks.

The benefits of reducing water consumption

“At first blush, it looks like the project is saving quite a bit of water,” Sheila says, adding that soon there will be more data available to compare the before-and-after results. “The sink aerators save 1.0 gallons per minute and the spray valves save 1.15 gallons per minute.”

The project also allows Ecolab to smooth out the consistency with regard to the equipment used throughout the stores, bringing everything up-to-date for a more unified approach to sustainability and energy efficiency. “Not only are we saving water volume,” Sheila says, “we’re also using less energy to heat water in our location.”

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By making small changes like this, we have the potential to make a huge impact.

Everybody can help reduce water waste

“Our employees and customers alike are becoming more and more aware of climate change.” Sheila says, adding that people are expecting—and in some cases demanding – this kind of responsibility from all large corporations. “By making small changes like this, Sobeys has the potential to make a huge impact. As a consumer and somebody who is interested in doing my part, I’m really happy with what we’re doing.”

Low-flow spray valve on a faucet

What is the water reduction plan?

With water security being a priority issue, Sobeys has a plan to reduce water consumption in its stores. So far, more than 600 stores have been part of the project since it began in May 2021, with an eye on eventually involving approximately 1,000 stores nationwide. Additional store franchisee locations may also decide to opt into the project on their own. At the same time, Sobeys continues to review other equipment used in-store, looking for new efficiencies in processes and equipment, and in alternate technologies wherever and whenever they make the most sense.

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Not only are we saving water volume, we’re using less energy to heat water in our location.

Reducing water consumption is just one step

Sheila says that her Windermere store hopes to have bees on the roof one day, something she and the staff are really excited about. Read all about it here.

“While this is unrelated to water consumption, it has an environmental connection,” she says. “And to be a part of these plans, even in a small way, is something meaningful that we can all share. knowing that we’re doing what we can, not just at home but at work, too.”

12 Ways to Save Water at Home

  1. Fix leaky faucets, toilets and pipes as soon as they’re detected. Even a small drip can waste more than five gallons of water a day. In addition, Install low-flow faucet aerators on all faucets and swap in water-saving shower heads in the bathrooms. These can save three or more gallons of water per minute.
  2. When replacing a toilet, invest in a dual-flush model, allowing for half- and full-flushes. Be mindful of unnecessary flushes and flush with minimalism in mind.
  3. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and while you’re shaving.
  4. Run the dishwasher only when it’s full as each load can use 20 gallons of water. The same goes for the washing machine.
  5. If you’re washing dishes by hand, don’t run the tap continuously for rinsing. Rinse everything all at once at the end.
  6. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge so you don’t have to run the tap each time you want a cold drink.
  7. If possible, install the hot water tank in close proximity to the kitchen sink, so you waste less water waiting for it to get hot.
  8. Use the compost box for vegetable waste instead of a garburator.
  9. Outside, use a watering can to water the plants. Bonus points if you saved rainwater.
  10. Sweep instead of using a hose to clean the driveway and sidewalk.
  11. Monitor the kids’ use of hoses and sprinklers when they’re playing, i.e. make sure they turn things off.
  12. Make it a household goal to lower the water bill each period – and reward your family for a job well done.