Illustration: Denis Shifrin
Ephraim Kishon once wrote a wonderful short story about how Israel used up all its water sources and disappeared. Here are some hints I have picked up along the way on how to save our most precious possession – water.
Main lesson: Learn to turn on a tap to a slow flow of water. This is already a saving of 50%. Some plumbers are not in favor of the piece added to a tap to reduce the flow, since they claim it can damage the pipe.
In the Home.
- Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. When washing dishes by hand, use the least amount of detergent possible. This minimizes rinse water needed. For greasy pans try first using a little boiling water. This cuts through the grease and you need far less water to clean.
- Don't defrost frozen foods under running water. Plan ahead by placing frozen items in the refrigerator for a longer period or leave on the counter overnight, defrost them where suitable in the microwave on defrost, or in a container of hot/warm water.
- Don't let the tap run while you clean vegetables. Rinse them in pan or basin and put the rinse water in a bucket and use for watering plants as needed.
- Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints. Check if the water from the cistern is running constantly inside the toilet by using a piece of toilet paper on the back of the bowl to check.
- Shorten your showers. Even a one or two minute reduction can save water.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and use a cup for rinsing. Do the same for shaving and fill a cup with water to rinse your razor.
- Don't use your toilet as a wastepaper basket.
- Capture tap water. While you wait for hot water to come down the pipes, catch the flow in a bucket or watering-can to use later on house plants or in your garden. In particular, this applies in the kitchen and bathroom.
In the Garden.
- Put a layer of mulch (dead leaves, old cut up newspapers or twigs etc) around trees and plants. This keeps the earth moist.
- Water your garden in the early morning which is better than dusk since it helps preventing the growth of fungus.
- Set lawn mower blades one notch higher. Longer grass means less evaporation.
- If you have a pool, use a pool cover to cut down on evaporation. It will also keep your pool cleaner and reduce the need to add chemicals.
- Don't use the hose for washing your car. Use a bucket of water and another to rinse at the end. We never use soap for washing the car and therefore use less water, but we do wax the car occasionally and this reduces the quantity of dust and dirt that sticks to the car and needs to be removed when washing.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean a driveway.
- Direct the water drain line of your air conditioner to a flower bed, tree base, or lawn, or at least to a very large container. It is amazing how much water is collected from an air conditioner.
- Tell your children and grandchildren not to play with the garden hose or sprinklers. This is also good education.
- Adjust your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden where it belongs and not on the path or driveway.
SAVING: Your water bill will be less as well.