General ramblings

Water, water, everywhere..?

July 26, 2013

This summer has been surprisingly rain-free.
So far.
Although we are forecast “Soggy Saturday” tomorrow.

But usually, here in good old Blighty, we are not exactly short of the wet stuff.
Which is probably why we all get so outraged when there is the merest hint of a hospipe ban.

But worldwide, it is a very different picture.

There is basically the same amount of water around now as there was millions of years ago when the dinosaurs were stomping about.
It gets used and then recycled through that very cleverest of things, the Water Cycle (drag your mind back to GCSE Geography)

Source: The Met Office

Source: The Met Office

BUT, there are now a few more demands on our fresh water, than there were when T-Rex was on the rampage.
Like 7 BILLION people for example.

Since 1950, global water use has nearly tripled.
70% of the fresh water available for human use goes towards growing food and raising animals.
The average US diet takes 4997 litres of water A DAY to produce (and I suspect the UK diet would be pretty much the same).
And it’s not just food. I read this great post on The Hessian Sack the other day, that it takes about 2,720 litres of water to produce enough cotton for ONE t-shirt.
Pollution of the waterways from run-off from farming and industry is a huge problem-70% of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into the waterways, rendering it undrinkable
Nearly a BILLION people lack access to safe drinking water

Wow.
I kind of knew water was important, but I hadn’t quite computed just quite how important.
I have always taken it for granted, and not really thought about how lucky we are to able to go to a tap, and get clean, drinkable, life-saving water.

So this is a post to say, “Save Your Water”.
It may be the most precious resource we have.
I am sure we will come up with viable alternatives to oil for energy (whether it will be before we have destroyed the planet is another matter) but we literally cannot survive without clean, fresh drinking water.

Please don’t complain if we have a hosepipe ban. We don’t know how lucky we are to be able to use this most precious of things, just to keep our gardens looking pretty, or our kids happy running through sprinklers.

And here are some water saving tips. Please add your own in the comments!

  • Get a water butt
  • Keep an old milk bottle near the tap, and then run the tap into it while waiting for the water to get hot/cold, then decant into your water butt
  • You can tip washing up water on your plants, as long as they are not lettuces and things (otherwise they might taste a bit soapy)
  • Half drunk cups of water that the kids infuriatingly leave around can go into the water butt
  • You can empty the bath water onto your plants too, again, the non-edible ones (we tried pouring the water from the baby bath into our water butt when BigSmall was tiny, forgetting that there might be the old speck of baby poo floating around in it-our water butt water was not pleasant…)
  • Put a brick in your cistern to reduce the amount of water used with each flush
  • And talking of flushing, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down”…
  • Shower not bath
  • Take shorter showers
  • You can get special adapters for your shower head to limit the amount of water coming out (put still be more than a trickle!)
  • I got this tip from the lovely people at Start-when you turn the shower on and are waiting for it to warm up, place a bucket underneath! I LOVE this-just need to find a bucket
  • If you are very dedicated, apparently you can also shower over a bucket-not sure I have the dexterity necessary to shower over a bucket, but let me know if you give it a go!

Come on then, lets hear them!

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No Comments

  • Reply icemaidencakes July 27, 2013 at 11:28 am

    When we were little we bathed once a week – the rest of the week everyone had a wash at the sink. Sunday was bath night and the whole family used the same water in ascending order of grubbiness, Mum usually went 1st, then us kids got in together followed by Dad!

    Must admit I don’t get people’s obesssion with showering every day, especially as so few of us have a manual job nowadays.

    • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Great point. I think I would struggle with not having a shower a day, whether that is just habit or necessity, I am not sure!

  • Reply Su July 27, 2013 at 9:28 am

    It doesn’t need to be a bucket one uses to collect shower water, we use one of those plastic stacking box type things, a flattish one. It works brilliantly.

    • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Great, thanks Sue. I will see what we have got!

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo July 27, 2013 at 9:08 am

    -Dont run the tap when you brush your teeth.
    -Instead of running your tap until you get cold water (for frinking), fill a jug and pop it in the fridge, or fill your glass from the tap and pop in a couple of ice cubes.
    -Wash your car using buckets and not a hose.
    – A dishwasher can use less water than washing dishes by hand (if you are lucky enough to have one).
    – Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or dishwasher.
    – Use the water left when you cook your veg for watering your garden (dont put on houseplants unless you want them to smell cabbagey).

    Thats all Ive got,
    ;O)

    • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Brilliant!
      Thankyou Jo.
      Have a great weekend πŸ™‚

  • Reply Hazel July 27, 2013 at 7:11 am

    As if my comment wasn’t long enough, I remembered after a prompt from the British Family blog that I wanted to ask if you’d seen this video?
    Peter Brabeck, Head of the Nestle group explains why he thinks that all water should be in private hands and that access to clean, safe drinking water is a privilege and not a human right. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEFL8ElXHaU
    To say it makes my blood boil is an understatement…

    Nestle own something like 75 brands of bottled water internationally.

    • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 8:14 am

      Nestle seem to do a lot of questionable things-pushing formula at breastfeeding mothers in the developing world being one.
      Trying to boycott their products-not sure this will make even the teensiest bit of difference, but as with anything, if we all did it, they would have to take notice.

  • Reply Hazel July 27, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Great post. I also question any child running a tap! We’ve only got a little under the counter fridge, but I really ought to make room for a bottle or 2 of cold (tap) water because the kids running the tap before filling the glass or jug drives me mad… Half cups/bottles of water go in the dog or cat water bowls. πŸ™‚

    I catch the shower warm-up water with a bucket and then just leave it next to me. I don’t actively try to get water in it, but I get some. If any of us wash our hair over the bath with the shower head we put a bucket in there and refill the cistern with the water when flushing the loo. I can’t bring myself to turn off the water to soap except in highest summer- hate being cold in the shower, well done Anji!- but I do usually shower in record time. πŸ™‚

    Crunchy Chicken prompted me to start catching the warm up water. When she blogged (think she’s still active on FB) she’d often have posts questioning what people do just because they always have or because it’s the accepted norm and one was on personal hygiene.
    I do seem to remember that the average US citizen uses WAY more water per day than a European one, and lots showered more than once every day. It gets complicated (lots of the US much hotter than here, a long daily power shower may well use more water than 2 short regular showers etc etc) but essentially- are we overly obsessed with being clean? Yes, very probably IMO. A stand up wash cleans all the essential bits, do we need a shower (or 2) every day for most of the year?

    (In the same vein, I finally got round to making my own deodorant. Wow! Wish I’d done it years ago- brilliant!! Seriously, it beats even DH’s chemical-packed spray for effectiveness. I may actually be able to wean him off and he doesn’t like stick or roll-on deodorants normally.)

    I was reading recently about what we use (expensive and energy intensive) drinking water for unnecessarily. Washing cars and watering the garden is obvious, but what about flushing the loo and washing floors and windows? Soaking laundry, especially cloth sanpro? A proper rainwater catchment system would be great, but in the meantime I use water butt water to do some of these some of the time.

    Finally(!) our water authority (Thames Water, rubbish at actually keeping water in the pipes) will send free gadgets to reduce water consumption. The kitchen tap swivel spray thingy and the flow reducer for the shower are both great- it’s worth checking with your water provider to see what they offer.

    • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

      Wow! Thanks Hazel πŸ™‚
      Great news about the deodorant-I agree with you about it’s effectivity, even in this hot weather!

  • Reply Vivienne Downes (@VivienneDownes) July 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Just add … don’t store “grey” water for any length of time as bacteria multiply. Cool it with water used to wash salad & veg then pour onto non-food plants straight away. Using a dishwasher only when full is way more efficient & hygienic than doing the dishes by hand. But if you don’t have one then using a bowl instead of doing them in the sink means you can recycle the water afterwards.
    Well remember too when caravans didn’t have taps & you had to fetch a container of water from a standpipe !

    • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

      Thanks Vivienne. We got a dishwasher a few years ago, because as you say, they are more efficient. But we still seem to need to do at least one bowl of washing up a day too! Better than 4 or 5 we were doing though I guess.

  • Reply lizlovingandlearning July 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    You are so right. Thanks for posting.
    We showered over a bucket when visiting India and staying in a hostel. It was what we then used to flush the loo. You don ‘t catch it all but you do catch a worthwhile amount. Can’t remember if had a technique but guess we worked it out as we went along. We were grateful there was a supply at all.
    I have to admit to loving baths but now have them much less often and the water is often then used by my nearest and dearest – doesn’t work both ways!

    • Reply Jen July 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      You won’t use his dirty water?
      Should add Sharing a bath to the water saving tips!

      • Reply Hazel July 27, 2013 at 5:46 am

        We could never agree on water temperature πŸ˜‰ My ‘comfortably warm’ is his ‘boiled alive’ so he has to get in my used water!
        The children tend to shower now, but if they have a bath I try and get more than one to use the water. Interestingly son has to go last because otherwise he complains it’s too hot. Must have inherited it from his father…

        I also leave the water in the bath and bale it out with a bucket (white elephant stall at church fete 3 years ago!) to flush the loo. (My children are old enough that I’m not worried about them falling in it.)

        • Reply Jen July 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

          Might start doing that with the kids bath water-great idea, thanks!

  • Reply booketta July 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    If we go to basic sites we stand up wash have a decent sink in our little Eriba Puck. We shower and very rarely use the bath in our house but as we are back to 5 here it’s difficult to conserve water as much as we’d like. Great post btw!

    • Reply Jen July 26, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      Thankyou so much.
      My kids get fed up with me screaming “turn the tap off!” if it is running for longer than about 3 seconds πŸ™‚

  • Reply Anji July 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I’m guilty of not doing this at home but perhaps when compulsory water meters come in we will all think differently

    • Reply Jen July 26, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      We are already on a meter and hubby gets very twitchy about washing the cars and things.

  • Reply Anji July 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Haven’t tried standing in a bucket but when showering in the caravan we spray all over, turn off the water,soap up, then turn the water back on to rinse. It’s amazing how little we need when we have to fill the containers at the bottom of the hill and when full carry them back up again!

    • Reply Jen July 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Maybe everyone should be made to do that Anji..!

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