Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Water Water Everywhere

The Ancient Mariner clearly knew something we didnt. But since he was talking about seawater and wearing a freakin albatross around his neck this is probably not a good analogy and just makes me look quite clever and ever so slightly pretentious for mentioning it.

Fresh water is precious. Over 1 billion people and rising dont have access to clean water whereas the average person in the developed world uses an astounding 100 litres a day easily. It is easy to get lazy when it just pours like magic from the tap. Here are some of the things we are doing to reduce our water wastage. You can do them too!

1. Dont let the tap run. This can easily send 20 litres down the drain in about a minute. Spiderman and I are well trained not to let it run whilst brushing teeth, but we both are in a bad habit of using it to rinse off a couple of dishes--which somehow takes so much longer and suddenly there are twice as many dishes than you realized and this one has something sticky on it that will need scrubbing and POW! Before you know it--tonnes of water wasted. We are vowing to fill the sink with soapy water--a few inches will do--and wash any dishes this way. That way if something needs a bit of a scrub it can get it and the tap is not running like a taxi meter whilst we do it. Which brings me to number 2. No laughing because Ive just said number 2.

2. Dont rinse soapy dishes under a running tap. This a huge water waster. There are 3 things you can do. Hope you have a dual sink that you can fill with some clear water for rinsing. We dont so thats out. Create a dual sink with a plastic tub that you fill with water and dip soapy dishes in to rinse off. Or behind curtain number 3 is to pile all the slightly soapy dishes in your dish drain and pour a few glasses clear water over the lot and let the water drain off into the sink. We have extremely hard water and this just creates lots more soap scum for us so we go for option 2 and use the tub to hold dirty dishes so the sink can be clear for things like draining stuff in the colander. This is also true for scrubbing up your fruit and veg--dont do it under a running tap.  Fill the sink with water add a wee drop of ecological washing up liquid and a splash of vinegar (will help get waxes off) and scrub that way.  Then rinse as you would dishes. And since Ive just mentioned it:

3. Use ecological washing up liquid or tablets if you own a dishwasher. Why buy some scary artificially coloured liquid that is made from petroleum and has harsh chemicals and lemon fresh chemical smell? If you want lemon flavour--use a real lemon. We wash with the mildest eco detergent made from plants and have a whole arsenal of cleaning weaponry. We buy loofah sponges at the Pound Shop (think Dollar Store) cut them into pieces, tie a bit of hemp twine around them and instant pot scrubber. When one wears out you can compost it. I keep small shakers of bicarbonate of soda and salt next to the sink if extra scrub power is needed. I have an old shampoo bottle filled with white wine vinegar (its cheap and doesnt smell as strong as plain white) for when you need to degrease. But my real secret weapon is lemon. I use fresh lemons a lot in my cooking and then I save the lemon halves for washing up. Use a juiced lemon as a pot scrubber to degrease and make the dishes smell nice then compost.

4. Fix leaky taps ASAP A tap that drips once per second can waste 15,000 litres in a year and a thin trickle up to 100,000 in a year going straight down the drain. We have leaky tap issues in this flat. We report them immediately but whether the plumber gets here immediately is another story. Weve been known to manually turn off the hot water valve to stop a leak--only turning it on when we need hot water--until the plumber arrives.

5. Get a water saving device for your toilet. If you are lucky enough to have a new modern toilet then you wont need one--it already is a low flush kind. But if you have an old one like we do consider a water saving device. Dont put a brick in like they used to tell you in the 80s--it will dissolve and give you hosts of issues. Use a Hippo Bag or an empty 1 litre bottle filled with water. We tried a hippo bag but it made our toilet leak and the plumber gave us dirty looks and a stern talking to. So right now I am subscribing to the If its yellow let it mellow theory --which Spiderman does not like therefore I only do it when he is not home. I hope to get a 1 litre or perhaps 500ml container in there soon and try again.

   6. Wash your clothes at 30 or 40 degrees. There is no need to wash higher. I mean 30 degrees C is like nearly 90 degrees F for Friths sake. Washing at 60 degrees uses twice as much energy as washing at 40 degrees. As Ive said we use ecological soap nuts to do laundry and I find they release their soap better at 40 degrees. But that is high as we go. And the same goes for detergent. Dont use some crazy perfumed one made from petroleum. Or TIDE or anything else owned by Proctor and Gamble because of their appalling animal testing policies. http://www.pandgkills.com/ But thats for another post.  Also always wash with a full load. It just makes sense. Washers use up lots of water per load you might as well get more clothes done for the water used. And while on the subject of laundry:

  7. Dont tumble dry if you dont have to. Tumble driers are HUGE energy sucks and HUGE CO2 emitters. Every time you tumble dry around 2.4 kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Line dry--inside or outside--and save the drier for maybe just tasking the excess water out of heavy thing like jeans or towels and then line dry the rest of the way. When we lived in Louisiana we dried all clothes indoors on clothes racks under the ceiling fan (too much pollen for me to dry outdoors). Here we do it on racks in the back room next to the dehumidifier--aided sometimes by the heater and the fan as the season dictates.

This one I disagree with but will print it anyway as it appears in everything I read.

8. Take a shower rather than a bath. When they say this they are referring to a 5 minute shower. I have never in my whole life been able to make a shower as short as 5 minutes.  I like hot water. I like warming up stiff and sore muscles in hot water. The longest shower I can ever recall was one that lasted 45 minutes while I recited the bulk of Act 1 of a one woman show I was performing under water. However this problem is solved for me as this flat does not have shower. You heard me correctly. We live without a shower. And do you know what? I love it. I didnt think I would, but I do. They say that a  short shower uses 35 litres of water if you have a low flow shower head and over 100 litres if you have an old shower head/power shower as opposed to a bath which uses much more than that--they mean a FULL bath. So I measured out what was 35 litres and how much bath water that allowed me and thats what I run. Its about 4 inches. Every morning I lay back and let the hot water release vertebrae compressed in the night. I can lay back for as long as I like and no extra water is running down the drain. Problem solved.

So think about the water that flows freely from your taps and realize that so many other people in the world do not have that luxury. Think before you waste.  

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I agree with you, water is being criminally wasted in the developed world!