Going the extra mile to save water

For those who followed us throughout last year, you would have noticed a number of articles dealing with the ongoing water crisis that is currently gripping the Eastern Cape.

Thanks to a crippling drought, the accelerating climate crisis and poor infrastructure maintenance, the province is running out of water fast. In fact, there are a number of towns that have already experienced the dreaded Day Zero.

For those of us who are still lucky enough to have access, it is becoming increasingly clear that we might not have it for much longer if consumption continues at its current rate.

That is why one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 is to try and reduce my personal water consumption as much as possible, even going beyond what is currently required by BCM’s Stage 3 Restrictions.

I’ve written before about some of the small ways people can save water in their households – fixing leaks, installing water tanks etc. These are all good thing to do and go a long way to saving water but suppose, like me, you want to go even further?

Over the holidays, I looked at my personal water usage and found two key areas where I think I use the most water: bathing and washing clothes. Thankfully, I think I may have also found solutions to both of them.

Let’s start with bathing. Relax, I’m not about to tell you to only shower once a week or something silly. What I am going to tell you is to switch to only showering and to bring a bucket with you when you do.

As you shower, you can fill up the bucket which then becomes a handy supply of grey water which can be used to flush toilets, water gardens, and so on.

You can also use it as a handy gauge of just how much water you use each time you shower which will help you monitor your daily usage.

Moving on to laundry, this one is a doozy. After swimming pools and gardening, I’d say laundry machines are the biggest source of water wastage in the average household.

I did a bit of searching and according to what I was able to find, most washing machines can use up to 100L of water per cycle. Even supposedly eco-friendly models can use up between 50 and 90L depending on model and settings.

GOING GREEN: Your washing machine is one of the biggest water wasters in your house

When you remember that higher-stage restrictions, which we are certainly heading towards, limit households to just 150L per person per day, doing your laundry suddenly eats up a massive chunk of your water budget.

Thankfully, there is a solution and even better, it’s Proudly South African.

Rather than using a traditional washing machine, those looking to save as much water as possible can instead use the South African-made WonderWash.

It’s basically a hand-cranked bucket that uses rotation and high pressure to clean your clothes while using only 1L of water per load.

While it’s certainly eco-friendly, it’s biggest drawback is its limited capacity. From the reviews I’ve seen, the device only seems to have enough space for a day or two’s worth of laundry from a single person – two shirts, undergarments, socks and pants.

For individuals and small families, this can work. There are four people in my family, for example, so if we each washed our own clothes at the end of every day, we’d only use 28L per week, a far cry from even the greenest washing machine.

However, the more people you need to do laundry for, the less useful it becomes so this isn’t really a universal solution. Still, it’s something worth considering.

As a final honourable mention, your dishwasher is actually the most eco-friendly way to wash dishes. It sounds weird after the laundry discussion but it’s true – modern models can use as little as 3L of water per load, making them even more efficient than hand-washing.


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