Tips to save water at the toilet
- If you have it, use your dual flush properly. The smaller button produces a little flush, suitable for pee. The big button is for a big flush, to flush bigger things
- Don’t flush after every pee. Hygiene is key, so you’re going to have to make a judgement call here, but if its yellow, its okay to let it mellow
- Put full, glass bottles in your cistern
- Don’t flush the entire cistern if not necessary (if you do not have a dual flush)
- Lower the cistern water level if possible
- Use recycled toilet paper – in general, stay away from luxury, bright white and fluffy tissue products to save water, electricity and in some countries, even virgin forests (according to this Greenpeace report). According to The Ecologist, for every tonne of paper used for recycling instead of virgin fibres, the savings are at least 30 000 litres of water, 3 000 to 4 000 kWh electricity (enough for an average three-bedroom house for one year!) and up to 95% of air pollutants. Is any soft, white and fluffy wipe really worth that? Go grey! (paper…that is). Or, on that note…
- Consider a squirt – a bidet is much less stressful on the environment, and your bum, than toilet paper. Think a well-aimed squirt of water is wasteful? Its’ reportedly trivial in comparison to the amount used to produce toilet paper – as much as 140 litres (plus 1.3 KWh of electricity and just over half a kilogram of wood) for a roll. A bidet? Not even 500 ml of cool relief. Plus, toilet paper can clog pipes, and load city sewer systems and water treatment plants (information from Scientific American).
Tips to save water at the sink
- Use a cup of water to brush your teeth, instead of running the tap while you brush.
- Choose a bamboo toothbrush – I love that so many people are talking more about the impact of plastic on the world – especially, the impact that it has on the oceans. But you should also remember that for trash, the way to the ocean is usually via a waterway. Non-recycled trash ends up in rivers, or on trash heaps, where it also adds to the pollution of groundwater. Or, it blocks our stormwater systems along the way, helping to cause floods. I don’t know how many plastic toothbrushes I’ve contributed to this mess over my lifetime, but I’m glad the bamboo varieties could help me to stop.
- Bring the old fashioned shaving mug back and clean your razor with just a cup of water each time
- Toothpaste works better when its dry – you can only rinse at the end
Tips to save water in the shower
- Use water-efficient showerheads and aerators
- Time your showers and keep it short. In the shower, every minute counts. Try and stick to two to four minutes. Need help? See shower songs below.
- Use the running water to soak and rinse. Close the taps while you wash. This also counts for brushing your teeth or shaving in the shower.
- Catch the cold water that would have run down the drain while you are waiting for the water to heat up. In most countries this is clean, good, drinking standard water. Houseplants? Thirsty pets? Use as you wish!
- If you catch the water while you are showering with a bucket (including the soapy stuff), this is now officially greywater – but still perfectly good to use. Check out how, here.
- Two-minute shower songs by Sanlam, released during the renowned Cape Town water crisis. Shower to the tune of some of South Africa’s biggest artists who cut down their top tracks to two minutes.
- Bathroom Beats (Spotify) are songs under four minutes each to help keep your shower short and sweet (and very happy – for a rock fan it was a bit of shock to the very early morning system) compiled by the Queensland Urban Utilities. Also, watch out for lines like “Ain’t nothing like a kiss out back in the barn” – it tends to come back at unexpected moments during the day.
- More four-minute shower songs, this time compiled by Water Aid
- A four-minute song specially written for the shower, by the Water Corporation
- A list of shower songs under five minutes by Delta Faucet, because “wherever there’s a faucet, there’s a room to transform”