Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. We may be stuck in a lockdown, but we still have environmental concerns to address. Just this year we heard shocking news of the Australian bush fires. In the UK we have issues of wildfires in several areas of the country as people have had picnics and barbecues at remote beauty spots during the driest May since 1986.
We are already getting to the stage of water shortages in my area. Even though the weather is forecast to cool down, there isn’t much rain on the agenda. The outlook suggests that we will have light drizzle one day, with a few drops a week later. This doesn’t bode well for those who have had more time to tend their gardens during lockdown! But what can we do to help the situation, when many of us are just trying to survive?
Last summer I heard a story of a man who reused as much water in his house as was possible. Some of his ideas seemed to be pretty extreme, but I decided to look into it. While I am not suggesting that we all wire up our washing machine outlets to irrigate our flower beds, there are some good tips to share with you. Let’s hope we can improve things before a hose pipe ban is imposed.
I don’t know how often you do it, but with us being at home significantly more, I seem to be running the tap on and off all day. Washing up: we need hot water. Cool drink: no-one likes it to be tepid. Warm, cool, warm, cool. Stick a washing-up bowl under the kitchen tap and catch that wasted water. It is amazing how much you can gather to pour over your sunflowers.
2. Pasta and vegetable water
Something I didn’t know – water that has been used to cook pasta contains plenty of nutrients. Add to this water from boiling or steaming vegetables, leave it to cool and put on your plants.
3. Rinsing salad
Again, we can put a bowl or jug in the sink and collect the water that we use to rinse fruit and salad. If you have a lawn, it will be grateful for it.
I’m sure my children aren’t the only ones to take an inordinate amount of time to get into the shower after we have started running it. Put a bucket under the shower head to amass the wasted water while you wait. I tried this last night, and turned off the shower as soon as it was the right temperature (rather than continually bellowing about how I would not need to have a job if people got in the shower straight away rather than wasting hot water, and so on…). An astonishing amount of water waited for me.
Now, this water is clean, unlike that which has been used for rinsing salad. It can be used for other household tasks.
5. Salvaging shower or bath water
For shower water, it is the same principle as above. I showered with two washing up bowls in there last night. (If you work with small children, you do seem to build up a collection of these essential items!) While I wouldn’t use this water to wipe down my surfaces, there is another application: flushing the toilet.
The principle is that you lift the seat and slosh down a quantity as quickly as you can. If you dribble it in, the bowl will continue to fill up. By getting the shower water in there fast, it imitates a flush. This is not something I would necesarily encourage my children to do (think of the state of the floor afterwards…) but as an adult, it isn’t too difficult.
The same goes for bath water. Before taking out the plug, get a couple of bucketfuls and keep them ready the next time you need the loo.
So, let me know how you get on! Have you been surprised at how much water you can reuse?
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