South Africa’s water challenge is headline news these days, and calls for residents to reduce their water consumption – to help preserve this precious resource.
In fact, if you’re a Cape Town resident, this will be nothing new to you and the topic of ‘water shortages and saving’ has probably become a very familiar one, following the region’s worst drought in over a century.
The fact is, water shortages are a reality, and the threat of a longer-term water crisis looms. However, one thing that this can teach us is that we need to make a few drastic lifestyle changes – to play our part in saving the water that is available to us.
In fact, did you know that a family of four uses anywhere between 300 and 400 litres of re-usable water on a daily basis*?
This goes to show that not only are we using more water than capacity, but that if it is re-usable, then surely there must be ways that you can repurpose this type of water within your household!
The real question then becomes – what is grey water and how can you, as an average citizen, implement such a solution in your home?
Also, how important is it to encourage your children to follow suit and help contribute towards water preservation in this manner?
Grey water in the home is made up of bath, shower, basin, sink or laundry water, and excludes water collected from toilets. As such, all this water can be cleaned and reused to reduce water usage, and ensure you and your family have access to clean water to use in your home.
Grey water in the home is made up of bath, shower, basin, sink or laundry water, but excludes water collected from toilets
Not sure where to start? Interwaste has shared a few tips on how you can reuse grey water in your household:
Invest in a grey-water recycling system
Shop around for a grey water recycling system that is best suited to your budget and household requirements. These systems are a smart way to collect used water in your household for reuse, and of course, help decrease your monthly water bill.
There are above and underground water systems that you can buy, and although these may seem pricey, the money you save in the long run (on savvy water usage) far outweighs the initial outlay costs.
Have a habit of regularly spending time in the garden, with your gloves and spade?
Well, next time you do so, try nurturing your plants with some grey water – collected from your bathroom basin after you wash your hands or even from the rinsing cycle in the washing machine, using a bucket or a watering can.
You can also use kitchen sink or dishwasher grey water: however, make sure that this water is free of grease, food scraps or pesticides before use.
The key is remembering to only use grey water containing biodegradable products in your garden, as other soaps and detergents can be harmful to your plants
Create an eco-friendly car wash – at home
Next time, before you jump into the shower, grab a bucket and place it on the floor to collect some of the excess water running from the shower head.
Alternatively, if you prefer bathing instead, and have an old-school geyser system that takes ages to release warm water, place a bucket under the tap to collect the cold water that runs out first. Once you have enough, grab the bucket, some eco-friendly soap and a sponge, and give your car a good ol’ wash.
Lastly, you can, as a responsible South African should, create strict rules within your home about your family’s water consumption habits. This can range from encouraging your older kids and partner to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth, to using a plug in the kitchen basin when washing dishes, and generally just talking to your family about the importance of saving water and creating grey water opportunities.
If you want your little ones to join in on your water preservation efforts, do this by creating incentives to help get them on board. More importantly however, check for any leaking taps and pipes in your home, and get these attended to as soon as possible. Not only are the leaks a waste of water, but they contribute to your monthly water bill.
We all have a collective responsibility towards water conversation efforts in South Africa, and it is therefore important to identify ways to reuse grey water, that can take the strain off our current water supply, and make for an environmentally conscious home.