There’s no denying anymore that Cape Town is heading towards Day Zero, the day when the taps will run dry.
Yes, it’s a scary thought for anyone, this is why we need to do everything in our power to save water. Even if you're not in Cape Town - here are some ways to save water and money in your home...
Purchase biodegradable wet wipes
Stock up on baby wipes that you can use to clean yourself with – a shower isn’t always necessary; make sure that you buy biodegradable ones (they are easy to find and the same price as normal ones) to minimise environmental impact.
Wetting a cloth or sponge to wipe down the counters is a waste – this can easily take 1 litre of water, and every drop counts. Instead, buy biodegradable kitchen and bathroom wipes that you can use to clean kitchen and bathrooms – these are also good to minimise germs from spreading. Again, make sure you choose biodegradable ones that will minimise environmental impact.
Use hand towels to dry yourself
When you have to take a shower, dry yourself with a hand towel – bath towels take up plenty of space in the washing machine and will require more water to wash. Another ingenious idea we read on Facebook is to use a chamois to dry yourself (thank you Mimi) or to just dry el natural (we’re in summer anyway, so you’ll dry pretty quickly!).
Handy hand-wash tip
Fill a small bowl with water and soap to use when you want to wash your hands during the day (only when necessary). Then, invest in hand sanitiser that you can use when you don’t need to wash your hands in your soapy water bowl.
Dry Shampoo your hair
Dry Shampoo is no longer reserved only for the ladies – it’s now a necessity for every member of the family (that includes husbands and sons). Using Dry Shampoo, or baby powder if your hair is more on the fairer side, can help you prolong your hair at least by a day or two until the next wash. And we all know that washing hair can consume lots of water!
For those who use conditioner when washing hair (of course, using your dry shampoo in-between every wash), here’s a water-wise alternative: a leave-in conditioner – this can easily save anywhere between 1 to 3 litres of water!
Use a glass of water when brushing your teeth
Instead of opening the tap and letting the water run when you brush your teeth, pour water into a glass for rinsing your mouth and brush. Believe us that there are still people who are letting their taps run when they’re brushing their teeth – valuable water down the drain.
Save the warming-up water
The chances of you getting into a shower with the water being straight-up warm is probably less than zero. So, make sure that you catch the water that’s flowing while you’re waiting for your shower water to heat up – if you save this in a clean container, you can use it for cooking or drinking during the day.
Stand in a bucket when showering
Flushing your toilet with the water in the cistern is wasting perfectly good water! Instead get a bucket large enough to stand in while you shower to catch all your grey, soapy water. This can then be used to flush your toilet or water your plants.
In fact, if you save your shower water over a few days, you can use it to fill your washing machine if you have a top loader – it’s only soap water, so will do no harm to your clothes.
Living la vida loo
Let’s face it: we all have to use the toilet at some point/s during the day. And while it might not be ideal, opt for a bin in your bathroom where you can dispose of your toilet paper, safely and hygienically (clean it out when necessary during the day to avoid bacteria and germs from spreading). This way you can really let it mellow if it’s yellow, and it will prevent the toilet from blocking when flushing with your shower water.
You can minimise odours in your toilet paper bin by sprinkling baking soda into it. There is also a great product on the market called Pee Wong that will help eliminate odours from an unflushed toilet.
Cook one-pot dishes
The aim is to use as little water as possible, which means you want to eliminate the number of dishes you do. The internet (read: Pinterest) is filled with an array of one-pot dishes that you can cook – one pot equals a whole lot fewer dishes.
Another smart way to avoid dishes: eat off paper-plates. Where possible, try to get paper plates that can be recycled or, at the very least, can be used in compost.
Check your washing machine’s cycle
So, you might think that your washing machine’s speedy cycle uses less water than the full cycle. Well, this is not always the case – for some washing machines, the speedy cycle actually uses more water as it rinses so much to speed up the cleaning process. Get in touch with your manufacturer and ask them which cycle on your specific model uses the least water.
Save your washing machine water
One of the easiest ways to store up on grey water is by disconnecting the water outlet pipe from the outlet in the wall to a 100litre bin. This water can then be used to water pot plants, flush the toilet and even to clean your floors.
And remember, only do washing when you have a full load of washing to do – smaller washes actually waste a lot of water.
Wear clothing two or more times
We get it: wearing something twice or more – especially in summer (hello sweatiness!) – isn’t ideal. But a simple solution of water and fabric softener or white vinegar and water can eliminate any odour. Simply pour your solution in a spray bottle and spray it onto areas that might need some freshening up, then hang it up outside to freshen up.
Another idea is to wear clothing made from breathable materials like cotton and in dark colours – this will allow you to get away with wearing them a few times before it starts looking desperate for a wash.
We’d also love to hear from you if you have any interesting water-saving tips – please share them with us in the comment box below.