South Africa is in the midst of a water crisis. After a very dry winter, our water reserves are at an all time low and so every responsible, concerned citizen is hopefully doing their best to save water. We have severe water restrictions in place in Cape Town, but of course there are some people who just don't give a f*ck. I give a f*ck so I am trying to save water wherever I can.
It's strange. You don't think about water and the availability thereof, until that availability is threatened. I've never been one to waste water, but I didn't think about it too much. I put on the tap and did what I needed to do without another thought. These water restrictions and the dire situation we find ourselves in have made me relook at how our family consumes water. Water is a precious resource, one we can't go without.
We are fortunate enough to stay in a big house with a swimming pool which means that we are already on the higher side of water consumption. Which is no excuse so when water restrictions first came around, the first thing we did was switch off our garden irrigation. That one was easy, it didn't affect me too much because we don't have much of a garden. Our house is built right up against the edge of our plot and what little garden we have is filled with a few hardy trees and some fake grass. Very low water requirement.
We bought a pool cover to cover the pool to prevent evaporation of the water.
The next thing we did is be mindful of how much water we use when we shower. We turned the flow of the water down so that less water came out the shower head. We showered for less time. When I shower, I put the shower on to rinse my body with water, then I switch the shower off, wash my hair, wash my body and then switch the shower on again to rinse the soap off.
We put buckets in the shower to collect the water that runs off us. Each day we (and by 'we' I mean ME) carry the buckets of water down the stairs and we water the little plants we have with that. (Unfortunately for us, our toilets aren't the ones you can lift fill with the grey water so we can't use the grey water from the shower in our loos)
Then we bought a grey water tank to use the water from the washing machine etc in the garden.
I even have a jug in the kitchen sink where I collect the bits of water left over in water bottles and that I reuse to water the plants. We do all the big and little things that collectively make a difference in saving water.
But by far the most difficult thing for me was the decision to do fewer loads of laundry.
I love doing the laundry. I am a teensy bit anal about cleaning and cleanliness and so the process of putting dirty clothes in the washing machine and getting clean clothes out is very therapeutic for me. But I know it is a big water user (even with my eco machine) and so I made the decision to wait until I have a big pile of washing before I do a load of washing in the machine. This means that I don't do a load of washing every day. Which is REALLY HARD. Because what if the article of clothing I want is in the wash! And what about that big pile of washing, all dirty and waiting to be washed! So hard! But we all need to help where we can.
The good thing is not only am I saving water, but I get SO excited when it is washing day!! Today I washed all the dark washing, it was awesome! Tomorrow is a light wash with all the towels!!! TWO DAYS IN A ROW! IT'S LIKE MY BIRTHDAY!
The funny thing is that I don't think I will go back to how I was before in terms of water usage. It's unnecessary to use as much water as we were using before. It really isn't necessary to do a load of washing every day if you plan properly. And you don't need to shower with the water going full blast. And you certainly don't need to hose down things you can clean with a broom or a bucket.
One thing I do miss is being able to wash myself under a stream of water. It's not so great standing in the shower with shampoo in your eye and soap all over the floor, so if we get good rains I might be tempted to leave the shower going while I wash. But for the the rest of it - I am happy to continue conserving water wherever I can. We all should.