Actress Kristen Bell took to the stage on Monday night in support of water conservation, saying "you don't have to be sacrificial" to save water.
Bell is an ambassador for Neutrogena Naturals, which has partnered with The Nature Conservancy on a campaign called "Style And Beauty For The Planet," an effort to educate Americans on the dire effects of wasting water.
Bell told The Huffington Post at the launch event for the campaign that initially, she struggled to grasp the challenges associated with conservation. "I was hesitant to even understand it as a domestic issue, because in America the tap is everywhere -- you can turn on water. How are we struggling with that?"
It took a visit to a formerly plentiful natural resource that alerted Bell to the severity of the issue."
"When I got to visit the Colorado River … you can see how this used to be a gushing river and this huge natural resource that has just been depleted over the years," she said.
"The great thing is that this is a solvable problem -- you don't have to be sacrificial at all. No one has to change their lifestyle, it is just making a tiny amount of choices that have a profound effect on the natural resources."
Lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy Dr. M. Sanjayan spoke at the event about the enormous amounts of water used to make everyday products. He said the production of enough cotton to make one pair of jeans consumes around 2,000 gallons of water, while 20 gallons of water go into making one glass of beer.
Sanjayan argued that everyone is an environmentalist because issues like water usage affect all aspects of life, including sports, shopping and travel.
"Water is one theme that unites all of us," he said. "We all drink the stuff … but only five percent of the water we use comes out of the tap. The real way we use water is all the stuff that we consume."
Sanjayan also addressed recent efforts to conserve water in the Flint River in Atlanta. He said by applying available technology to irrigation systems, 15 billion gallons of river water have been saved. "We used Wi-Fi technology. We put stuff in the ground that tells you when the soil is saturated, it sends a signal to routers and the routers turn off the sprinkler heads on big farms. Just that technology and a few other cool technologies basically reduced water use from the Flint River by 17 percent."
According to The Nature Conservancy's website, wildlife and the local agricultural community are threatened because historic droughts and intense water use have lessened the flow of water to the lower Flint River system.
The Colorado River also supports agricultural irrigation, livestock, nature sanctuaries and provides a reliable water source, according to the Colorado River Foundation.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board issued a report in June that addresses the pressures facing the river. The press release that accompanied the report described the severity of the problem: "The actual supply of the Colorado River falls short of the water allocations provided under the Colorado River Compact, and future demand is expected to be significantly greater due to region-wide stressors such as climate change, drought and continued development across the Southwest."
Bell told HuffPost that small changes to everyday routines go a long way toward saving water. The easiest lifestyle changes to make, she said, are "the obvious ones." She suggested people turn off the tap while brushing their teeth, do laundry only when there's a full load, and not run the shower before they are ready to get in.
Bell also stressed the importance of buying environmentally responsible products.
"I'm a firm believer in every dollar you spend is a vote," she said. "In this case, there is no better example about how knowledge is power, so you choose companies that have parallel beliefs to your own … it is all about empowerment."
"I think that it is always true that change comes from the bottom up," Bell added. "So if the consumers are demanding a more responsible product, the companies will have no choice other than to meet the demand."
See photos from the "Style And Beauty For The Planet" launch event: