Fresh water is a valuable resource, less than 1% of all the water on Earth is available for human consumption. In the United States, approximately 400 billion gallons of water are used each day. (USGS, 2005) An American uses 100 to 175 gallons of water per day on average. For most of North America, over 50% of residential water is applied to landscape and lawns. Most of the landscapes and lawns in Virginia, and all of them in Northern Virginia, contribute to the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay because we all share the same watershed. So what you do on your lawn can affect the entire region. To minimize your landscape and lawn's affect on the environment and to save money, use water wisely and conservatively when you water your plants or when you clean your car; plant native plants, which are adapted to the local climate and need less water and fertilizer to thrive; fertilize with less chemicals and with minimal applications to reduce runoff into streams; and consider having a rain barrel to collect rain water for irrigation. You can learn to build your own rain barrel at workshops hosted by the Mason Sustainable Institute. Even the trees and shrubs you choose for your property can help you save money. Well-placed trees to block wind or to shade your home can reduce your heating and cooling costs.
George Mason University has several sustainability initiatives on its grounds including creating bumblebee and butterfly havens that encourages wildlife and minimizes maintenance; using native plants in its landscaping and even has a native plant garden to maintaining wildflower areas as buffers to forested areas; composting all of its grass clippings and leaves for mulch; having two certified National Wildlife Habitats; using an integrated pest management program that minimizes pesticides use; and cultivating several edible gardens on campus. To learn more about some of these locations on Mason's campus, visit our sustainability map.