Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tips for saving water at home

Install a foot tap. 

Rather than using the traditional, ubiquitous twist-knob taps, you can install a foot pedal which you press to control the flow of water. Using such pedals helps reduce water consumption by as much as 50 percent.

Attach a shower head to tap fittings. 

Installing a shower head on your tap may seem like an outrageous notion but trust us on this one. It is a common misconception that high-pressure, high-volume water is needed to clean tough dirt and grease from dishes. In fact, what is more effective is using a wide water spray rather than heavy water volume which of course can be achieved through the use of a shower head. Fitting a water-saving shower-head to your tap will still give you enough water and spray to clean effectively, meaning you use less water even when washing the tough stuff.

Bring a bucket. 

A peek into any bathroom in Australia provides a handy water-saving tip from the inhabitants of the driest continent on the planet - place a bucket in the shower. These buckets are placed under the shower-head to catch all that excess water that normally goes down the drain while you wait for the water to heat up.

Treat your waste water at home

Generally speaking, all that water that trickles down the drain after you use it can actually be a boon for the garden. Commonly referred to as wastewater (or blackwater and grey-water), leftover water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry is mixed with detergents, oil and dirt and is generally not appropriate for use in the garden in its waste form. However, with proper filtering and treatment it can be highly beneficial for crops. In a broad sense, blackwater can defined as waste water that originates from toilets and bathrooms containing human waste and urine. This water is highly contaminated and should be treated as sewage. Greywater is waste water from sinks, washing machines, showers and bathtubs. It contains far less contaminants than blackwater and can be treated via various at-home filtration techniques for use in your backyard. Exact defintions of backwater and grey-water vary and it would be worthwhile checking with your local authority to determine exactly which categories your waste water falls into.
Sound complicated? It’s actually simpler than you think and your set up doesn’t need to be high-tech. Researchers in Kolkata tested a variety of water filtration systems and found that even the most poorly performing ones still treated water to levels acceptable for use in the garden, while the video below (taken in Bangalore) breaks it down very neatly.

Use less water when cleaning

Using biodegradable cleaners (i.e. natural items such as lemons and vinegar or cleaning agents manufactured under eco-friendly conditions) as well as phosphate-free detergents also helps to reduce water consumption and is less harmful to the environment. Using them to clean uses less water than chemically-laden alternatives. One reason for this is the inclusion of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in many conventional cleaning products. SLS is generally used as a foaming agent, it’s foaming properties triggered when coming into contact with water. Without water, using these cleaning gels and creams would be one sticky mess—the more water that’s used, the more foam that's produced. These agents also need to be washed off any surface or item after use considering the harmful impact they have on human health. Compare this to using vinegar, which requires no water to offset it’s disinfecting properties and doesn’t need to be washed off a surface or item after it’s been used to clean (check out this site for oodles of recommendations for cleaning with vinegar). The local tried-and-true method of using soapnuts for washing is an oldie but a goodie. A little water is required to get going, but it’s still less than is required for conventional cleaners. Other reliable products include baking soda  (works wonders when mixed with vinegar to form a paste) and the swiss army knife of natural cleaners tea tree oil, which has strong disinfecting properties and can be used to treat or clean a plethora of grievances.

Rain water harvesting

We couldn’t broach the subject of managing water consumption in a more sustaibale way without paying lip service to the act of collecting and storing rainwater for reuse, commonly referred to as rainwater harvesting. India has a long history of rainwater catching and storage with archaeologists discovering more than 60,000 rainwater harvesting structures in the country dating back as far as the third century BC. Whether dwelling in the city or the country, rainwater harvesting allows you to take control of and monitor your direct water use. The Centre for Science and Environment has a detailed step-by-step guide for setting up your own rainwater harvesting system.

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