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 (maybe not this year!) 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.
Some water-saving ideas have been around for a while: shower rather than having 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!
- If you rinse fruit or vegetables before eating them, use the water in the garden afterwards. Water for boiling vegetables can also be used in this way once cooled. If you steam vegetables rather than boiling, you can reduce the volume of water.
- 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!
- 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.
- Power showers can gush out fifteen litres per minute, so it only takes five minutes to use as much as a bath might. If you spend a long time in the shower, could you decrease the volume of water used by turning off while you lather?
- Wait for a full load of washing if possible. 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 try to minimise watering – it ALWAYS recovers, even after long periods of dry weather.
- 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 email@example.com