As countries around the world face water shortages and restrictions, many people have had to change they way they look at and approach using water in their homes and lives.
Living in South Africa, it happened to us with water shedding too. Here are some of the tips we used to dramatically decrease our water and electricity consumption, resulting in a two-thirds monthly cost saving.
Bathing & Showering
Using a bucket or plastic tub in your shower allows you to collect the water as it’s falling, and then use that water for shaving and other activities you may wanted collected water for.
It takes some skill to shave in the shower, although crouching or bracing your leg against a far wall seems to work well.
The bucket or tub means you get wet and lathered, then turn the water off and use the water collected in the bucket to do all the shaving and bits you need to. You then turn the water back on when you need to rinse again.
If you’re in an older home that only has a bath, then you can do a similar thing with a little hand shower that slips onto a tap outlet.
Put the plug in and let the water collect in the bath, and sit down and shave and do your thing after you’ve rinsed and washed your hair with the hand shower attachment.
Another neat trick is to stop using conditioner.
You’d think it messes with your hair but it can actually significantly improve the condition of your hair. And you only have to shampoo once instead of shampooing twice and conditioning once.
Newly produced amenities and appliances are designed to more environmentally friendly than their older counterparts, and many use significantly less water and electricity.
If you are in an older home, one of the places you want to look at to save water is toilets. Older cisterns tend to use way more water than what you actually need.
The quick fix is to put a full bottle or a brick inside the cistern, so that less water is needed to fill the tank.
Another way to significantly decrease the amount of water you use is the “If it’s yellow let it mellow” rule. If you can get past the discomfort of the societal pressures of it, you won’t literally be flushing so much money away every month.
Even if you don’t have a newer eco-friendly machine, chances are good your machine still has an eco-friendly setting somewhere.
If it’s not marked as eco wash or something similar, look for a setting that uses lower temperatures and runs for a shorter period of time. Usually cycles show how much water is used as well.
You’re aiming for the trifecta: quick time cycle, on low water temperature, using the minimal amount of water.
The other habit to develop is to wear your clothes more than once, maybe even four or five times, depending on the item.
The truth is that our modern lifestyles of convenience have made us very lazy, and we do things like chuck stuff into the washing when we could hang it up again.
Most items can be worn multiple times, and like everything else, you will get into the habit quite quickly. What tends to make us take pause here is fear of what others will think (am I dirty or smelly?), but you’ll quickly come to realise nobody will even notice, because the items aren’t dirty and don’t smell. There’s really nothing to fear.
Most people could comfortably halve their washing loads just by using this principle, which saves on detergents and electricity too. Not to mention the time spent doing laundry!
There’s loads of argument about dishwashers versus handwashing when it comes to washing dishes – this is not that argument.
The key to reducing how many dishes you wash is to simplify the way that you cook and use less dishes to begin with.
A steamer is a great option for all in one cooking – and it’s only one set of layers to wash. You can throw veggies, potatoes and even chicken in together to steam – and over salting slightly makes it taste great.
You can also do one-pot meals like stews and soups, and if you cook in advance for a few days and everyone eats when they’re hungry then that saves your time and energy too.
Wait until the dishes accumulate before you wash the whole load in one go – using a single sink of water, or maybe two. With practice, you’ll only be washing a sink of dishes every day or two.
If you’re worried about food going hard or crusting, leave a bit of water in the sink to for the dishes to soak in. You’d be amazed at how easily food and gunk rubs off when you do wash the dishes.
And if you run out of dishes too quickly to do this? Well then you have to pull the family in and ask them to play ball. With most things in life we overcomplicate, but if you simply just ask and speak, most people will oblige. Even if it takes a bit of nagging from you at first!
It takes practice to form a new habit
It’s difficult at first – often because our habits form out of convenience and laziness.
People don’t like making changes that involve extra work or inconvenience for them, and we’re often very worried about what others can and will think.
Once you dig in and start though, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your habits fall into place and change – because it actually saves you time over the long run and is an easier way to live.