How To Save Water

Water saving tips for Cape Town's water crisis

By Hugh Upsher

You’re just a little ol' citizen, what difference could you possibly make in the big scheme of things by standing over a bucket in the shower and then using this to flush the toilet? The short answer is – a significant one. 

More importantly, when the topic of water saving inevitably comes up, you can be first to gloat about how much effort you’re putting in. Here are my water saving tips for the current water crisis in Cape Town, as well as every other water crisis that will certainly occur over the next few years.

Put your plants on a diet

Plants are living, breathing proof that you are indeed a responsible person of some kind. Having plants is similar to having children in many ways, if those children were more like pets, and those pets didn’t move at all and only required a little water once a week. Anyway, when times get tough, you have to tighten the belt a bit. All plants are designed to go through fluctuations of water scarcity, otherwise they would be pretty useless in the wild. With this in mind, cutting down on your watering schedule shouldn’t cause much harm. Be sure to only water them in the evening or early mornings to avoid having half the water evaporate before hitting the roots. Mulch will also help to stop evaporation. And if you’re not using grey water from the shower to water your plants, well now is a fantastic time to start.

Never wash your jeans

Washing machines use plenty of water every time you turn them on, so the less you use yours the better. I’m 100% for washing clothes that are dirty or smell quite obviously of my essence, but if not, then think twice about tossing anything in the basket. Wearing an item of clothing once or twice shouldn’t necessarily warrant a wash. Denim doesn't need to be washed much at all, with the Levi’s CEO himself claiming that machine washing your jeans is completely unnecessary. I bought a pair of Levi’s in December and have yet to wash them because they are designed to be beaten up. Many garments actually age that much faster because of how many times they’ve been washed.

Don’t ponder how to save water while showering

A morning shower is an unquestionably fantastic way to start a day, and I would never want to take that away from you. Everyone loves that steamy moment of privacy that allows you to slowly bring yourself into full consciousness. It’s a great space to have fresh ideas, sing that Rihanna song that’s been stuck in your head all week or just stare blankly at the spaces between the tiles. The reality is that those ten-minute showers are a complete extravagance, especially if you’re doing it every single day. If the concept of time is an abstract notion to you at half past six in the morning, I suggest setting a timer on your phone to remind you when your two minutes are up and you’re heading into the danger zone.

If you think you’ve got no part to play in this crisis, then you should seriously reconsider. I guarantee this will not be the last water shortage you will be hearing about in the coming years. Being responsible with water is an ongoing struggle that everyone should be considerate of, no matter where you are in the country. Remember to be bold in calling out people and businesses that are guilty of excessive water usage, and to share these and any other water saving tips you have with your friends.