As you may know I live in Cape Town in South Africa. What you may not know is that we are having a terrible drought at the moment and conserving water has become of utmost importance.
For some time now we’ve been hearing about Day Zero which is when the taps are expected to run dry and we’ll have to queue for water. This has been a massive worry for quite some time and we heard the other day that if we continue our water conserving efforts here in Cape Town, this will pushed out for the rest of the year.
So what are we doing at the moment?
From 1st February this year we have been limited to 50 litres per person per day.
Scary fact: some toilets use as much as 9 litres per flush. One laundry cycle (depending on your washing machine and the wash cycle selected) can use up more than the daily allowance in one wash!
So how do we get by on 50 litres per day?
We collect every drop of water used indoors (washing machine water, dishwashing water, the water used to wash hands and shower etc and save it in buckets. Then we re-use this grey water around the home. We’ve been flushing our toilets this way for a while now. You’d be surprised how quickly you can fill a bucket with used water. Simply doing the dishes can fill a bucket with ease.
We have to shower for less than 90 seconds – doable if you turn off the water between soaping and applying shampoo.
The days of soaking in a bubble bath are long forgotten memories. Sadly this was my way of relaxing after work. The tub, a cup of tea (or glass of wine depending on the day I’ve had) and me. Now it is just me and my wine.
In our office at work we have no water to the taps in the bathrooms. So we spray our hands with sanitiser. The first thing I do everyday when I get home is wash my hands. I cannot tell you how good it feels. My hands are quite dry from the sanitiser (I buy wipes sometimes) and I do worry about the spread of germs. There is water to the loos but this is for when it is necessary if you get my drift. The phrase ‘If it is yellow, let it mellow’ was funny in “Meet the Fockers” but a reality for us here in Cape Town at the moment. It is amazing how quickly we got into the routine (it did feel odd at first not flushing but now it is the norm). We use a spray inside the toilet which neutralises the urine smell and this works well.
This whole experience has been an eye opener. Something that so many take for granted and use with free abandon has become precious and the need to conserve this commodity is on everyone’s minds. At work we exchange ideas of how we are saving at home. On FB there are groups with advice. There is a lot of information out there and we need to just keep at this. There are plans for water desalination plants but these are expensive and it take time.
When hubby and I are away in a place without water restrictions one of the first things we look forward to is a shower where we don’t have to count the seconds. And yet we never linger long because the water saving mindset is always there. We had to remind ourselves to flush when we were at Sun City last month instead of filling buckets with gray water. Sounds crazy but it was such a treat! It is amazing how quickly you can get into a routine.
We just hope this one doesn’t have to last forever.