We’re currently experiencing the one of the worst droughts in Cape Town and we are fast approaching ‘Day Zero‘ when the city predicts that our water supplies may run out. This is a combination of climate change, growing population and unfortunately poor planning. There’s not much we can do though besides implement insane water savings at work and home. We currently have less than 90 days remaining and all residents are restricted to use only 50 litres of water per day.
Saving water shouldn’t be restricted to times of drought though as we all have a responsibility to use water more sparingly. Understanding the value of this natural resource should really motivate us all to be more conscious when using it.
Not everyone can afford to replace all appliances with eco-friendly ones and to redo plumbing to save water, so here is a list of easy and cost-effective ways to save insane amounts of water in your house. Most of these are simply habits to get into and require no capital outlay.
I’ve divided the list into 3 categories; using less water, collecting grey water & harvesting rain water. Some items overlap into other categories but you’ll get the gist of it.
Insane water saving tips for the home:
On using less water:
Obviously not everything applies to everyone, so take what you can from the list and find what works for you.
- When showering, turn the tap off whislt lathering the soap or washing your hair.
- Change your shower head to a water-saving one and install aerators on your basin taps.
- Shave your head in order to save time in the shower.
- If you don’t have a shower you need to get creative with bath-time as baths use excessive amounts of water! Limit yourself to a bucket or two.
- You can try simply sponging yourself from a single bucket of water every second day.
- Use waterless hand sanitiser whenever possible.
- Keep a stock of wet wipes handy.
- Pile up dirty dishes for a day or two and wash a whole lot at once (whether washing by hand or in a dishwasher).
- If you use a basin to rinse the soapy dishes, keep the water for several loads of dishes (it’s clean after all).
- Wear some items of clothing more often between washes.
- Only flush the toilet when you really need to, and use grey water (see collecting grey water).
- Use the ‘eco’ cycle (if you have) on your washing machine or dishwasher.
- Stop washing your car.
- Stop watering the garden with fresh potable water.
On collecting grey water:
Grey water can be used to flush the loo and if you use eco-friendly detergents and soaps you can use it to water the garden too. It’s easy to collect grey water.
For starters, when showering, collect the water that is wasted while you wait for it to warm up. This water is perfectly clean and can be used for watering plants or rinsing dishes. Just catch this initial water in a bucket dedicated to fresh water.
Then, for actual grey water;
- Stand in a large plastic tub in the shower and collect all the shower water.
- Place plastic tubs in all hand basins to collect water from hand-washing.
- Wash dishes in a plastic tub in your sink as you can reuse that water.
- If possible, place the outlet pipes from dishwasher and washing machine into a large plastic bin. (In the long run one can set up an actual grey-water collection system that is automatically plumbed into the house, but that is expensive).
On harvesting rain water:
The ultimate solution is to buy water tanks which you install under your gutter down-pipes to collect all the rainwater that flows off your roof. This can however be a bit pricy initially and the short-term solution is to purchase large plastic drums which you place below the down-pipes. These won’t collect as much water but you can replace them with larger tanks as and when you have the money. This water is handy for the garden or washing your car.
Even though Capetonians are being forced into severe water saving solutions, everyone can learn from this. With an ever growing world population we all have a responsibility to use this natural resource in a far more conscious manner! Every drop quite literally counts and you should make an effort to understand how much water you actually use and waste in your home environment!