I know I take water for granted. I am often reminded just how much when we have water cuts (we have one local pipe that keeps bursting). My parents are pretty good about saving water and have put in a few measures in place to save their water consumption, like using grey water. Granted they do live in the desert, so it is much more of a daily reality.
Living a more sustainable, waste-free life is not just about reducing plastic or shopping consciously, it is also about making changes that protect and save natural resources, like water. The planet may be covered in 74% water but only 3% of that is suitable for drinking – suddenly it becomes a very rare resource that needs to be protected more.
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So, what can you do?
Check your water bill. Checking your water bill is a good place to start, when you know how much water your household is currently using you will have something to benchmark any changes against. Currently South Africans use more water per day (around 235liters) than the world average which is only 185 litres. This gives you an idea of the amount of water you should aim for. Checking your bill properly will also help you pick up any spikes in usage, this could be the result of a leak.
Fix those leaky taps. We have a leaky tap. Before we fixed it, I put a Tupperware underneath it and was shocked at how much water was being wasted just through that leak. I emptied the container about 3 times during the day – it was collecting about 2 litres of water every day. The drips may seem small, but they add up super quickly.
Collect the cold water while it is heating up. Our kitchen tap takes forever to heat up, if I need hot water, I collect the cold water than run outs – it is about 8 litres of water. I know this is not the case for every tap and we could probably have it fixed somehow but if you are waiting for water to heat up, collect the cold water.
Use a dishwasher. I have seen a few debates around this but if I look at our household, we definitely use less water by putting the dishes into the dishwasher than washing them by hand. Just make sure to full the dishwasher before you put it on. A lot of appliance brands are bringing out environmentally friendly dishwashers, they do still come with a hefty price tag, and you have to be careful of green washing, but it is still a move in the right direction.
Wash less but wash more. This is not hard for us because we have a lot of laundry, but I make sure we do a full load each time. We have a large 8kg tub so we can fit a lot of washing in and if there are only a few things, we wait until there is enough to full the load.
Put a bucket in the shower. We used to do this and need to actually get back to doing it. My parents are really good about this as well. Adding a bucket to the shower allows you to catch some of the cold water that comes up while waiting for the hot water to come through. Obviously, you don’t really want the soapy water because then you can’t really use it anywhere – unless you are using completely organic products.
Get creative. My kids drink a lot of water every day. This means we often have half filled glass bottles and glasses all over the house. I collect these and either water the plants if they are due or throw it all in the kettle. When we cook potatoes, rice, or pasta or if we steam veggies, I keep all that water, let it cool and use it to water my garden.
Water your garden when it is cool. Avoid watering your garden in the middle of the day, do it first thing in the morning or in the evening when it has cooled and water only what you absolutely need to. Using a watering can helps to make sure you control the amount of water you use.
Be water–wise in the bathroom. You can use a brick in the cistern to reduce the amount of water you are using, and you don’t need to flush every time you go. Not every family is comfortable with this, but it is a good way to save water.
Take a short shower, not a long bath. I will admit I really struggle with this. I love my bath and I absolutely hate showering. If you do bath, you can use that water to flush the toilets but ultimately you want to ditch the long baths and showers for quicker time in the shower.
Be aware. I think for us, the biggest change we have made, is awareness. Being aware of our water usage already makes a huge difference. My kids are more aware – even if they still leave the taps running sometimes – and hopefully that will result in conscious adults.
What are you doing to save water?
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