Forty years ago, saving water was a topic on nobody’s mind. Especially for those living in the UK, water seemed to be in plentiful supply. It flowed freely from the sky and almost as freely from the tap. But now things are different. Not only do we endure longer periods of dry weather but we are also more aware of the energy and chemicals required to make water clean enough for household use and to pump it to homes, farms and factories. If, like many of us at One Positive Change, you live in Hampshire, using too much water can cause a shortage in our chalk streams, affecting the many plants and animals living in and around them. Imagine how much water there is in our water system instead of in the natural environment where it helps maintain earth’s balance.
Some water-saving ideas have been around for a while: have a quick shower rather than a bath, turn the tap off while cleaning your teeth, collect rain water for use in the garden. But have a look at these other tips – I certainly learned a few new things!
- Keep a bowl in your kitchen sink to collect any excess water from rinsing fruit and vegetables, drained cooking water etc. and use it for watering plants or cleaning.
- If you steam vegetables rather than boiling, you can reduce the volume of water used for cooking.
- If you drink water or squash every day, keep a jugful in the fridge rather than running the tap until it’s cold every time.
- Reduce your food waste. This is a whole topic in itself but I was recently shocked to learn that half the potatoes bought in the UK are thrown away. That’s after the ‘sub-standard’ ones are rejected. Think of all the land, water and energy wasted in the production of food that we throw in the bin!
- Power showers can gush out fifteen litres per minute, so it only takes five minutes to use as much as a bath might. Put a bucket next to you on the shower tray to collect excess water and use it to flush the toilet or water the garden, wash quickly and turn off the water while you lather up.
- Wait for a full load of washing. Two half loads will use more water and energy than one full load.
- Most of us are aware that using the hosepipe or sprinkler in the garden is frowned upon. Did you know that an hour ‘sprinkling’ your lawn requires between 500 and 1000 litres? It’s true that a brown lawn is less attractive to look at than a green one but it ALWAYS recovers, even after long periods of dry weather. The water is more valuable used elsewhere.
- Adding peat-free compost (ideally home-made!) or manure to your soil can help it retain water more effectively, saving you from having to water as often.
- A layer on top of the soil, of bark chips or even slate, reduces evaporation from the surface and can help prevent weeds from growing.
- Remove weeds before they start competing for water with your plants.
- Water the soil, not the leaves. Plants can only absorb the water through their roots, and water on the leaves may be evaporated before it can be used.
- Water in the early morning if you want your plants to get the most from it. They can’t photosynthesise in the dark.
Hopefully, that gives you one or two new things to try, and reminds you of some practises you had forgotten or lapsed with. If you can give us any other water-saving tips, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org