Water, water everywhere, only if we share.

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The dam at Silvermine

Water water everywhere, only if we share. This is the official slogan of World Water Day which is happening on 22 March.

When I consider that 780 million people lack access to clean water worldwide and many people in my own city, Cape Town, live without running water, I am embarassed to admit that I have no less than 10 sets of taps in my home – six inside and four outside. Living with such easy access to water makes it hard to remember that water is such a scarce resource.

When I go camping where water is less easily obtainable, or hiking where I have to carry my water with me, it helps to remind me how precious it really is.

I’ve put together some ideas for saving water –  I’m not even going to include turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, as I am going to assume that by now you do that one already! Do you have any water saving tips? Please leave a comment below.


Here are some of the things that I do to save water:

  • Catch the cold water in my basin while waiting for the water to heat up and use it to water my indoor plants
  • Keep a plastic basin in the sink to catch water from rinsing or washing veggies and use it to water the garden.
  • Put a brick in our toilet cisterns which reduce the amount of water used per flush. This is especially useful in old cisterns which can hold as much as 20 litres of water.
  • Only bath occasionally
  • Always drink tap water – never bottled water
  • Being a vegetarian also helps to reduce your water footprint.  The global average water footprint for a kilogram of beef is 15500 litres. This includes the grains and roughage, as well as the water that the cow consumes. For comparative purposes, 263 litres of water is used in the production of a 250g soy burger. Read our blog post on water and food here.
  • Only turn the dishwasher on when it’s full.
  • Our bathrooms are hooked up to system which pumps our waste water into the garden. It is a simple system with no filter or purifier. This means that it has to clear out the water every 24 hours otherwise grey water can become black water (which is smelly and gross). It has a sensor which pumps water once the tank has filled up to a certain level. This was an inexpensive system, consisting of a 20 litre tank which we dug into the ground, a small pump and pipes – it costs around R3000. You can buy it online here.
  • Cover our swimming pool so the water doesn’t evaporate.
  • Run the washing machine on shortest wash cycle
  • Water plants at the coolest part of the day
  • I know some of you will flinch, but we practice the “if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down”. We dont have a sign above the toilet though (yet!)

These are things that I have on my “to do” list

  • Buy a rain water tank for watering the garden. You can get a 750 litre Jo Jo at Builders Warehouse for about R1,700
  • Get a self closing nozzle for our hosepipe
  • Install a dual flush mechanism on our toilets.
  • Install aerators and flow-reducing valves on taps.
  • Learn more about water-wise gardening.

These are things that are on my wish list

  • Retrofit my toilet to a waterless toilet. (although my husband is not too keen on this idea!). This will cost around R8000, but this cost could be recovered by the saving on water. Interested? Here’s more information.
  • Install a water recycling system so that rain water is used to flush the toilet. Water Rhapsody does tailor- made systems
  • Install a water meter to monitor my use.

For more ideas on how to make savings at home try using our household toolkit or our toolkit booklet on water. For water savings at work – try out our office toolkit.  

How much water goes into making some common products

One A4 sheet of paper 10l
One computer microchip 30l
A slice of bread 40l
An apple 70l
A pint of beer 75l
A glass of wine 120l
One kilo of sugar 1500l
A cotton T shirt 2,700l
A pair of jeans 10,850l
A medium sized car 147,970l

 Source: Simply Green Magazine, May/June issue

Olivia Andrews – Operations Coordinator








4 responses to “Water, water everywhere, only if we share.

  1. Our builder recently installed a simple grey water system for us that he uses in his own house. A normal rigid pipe runs from the shower outlet to the start of the garden. Here a flexible hose is attached which expands when water enters it. Water runs through this system using gravity. Each day we move the flexible hose to water a different area of the garden. There was no initial cost digging an underground tank or ongoing costs in terms of pumping the water. All other options suggested to me involved pumping water and I didn’t want to conserve water but at the same time increase my carbon footprint by using more of Eskom’s coal-fired electricity.

  2. Thanks for sharing that ingenious idea Judy!

  3. We have run the waste pipe from our (single) bathroom and from our kitchen to a small unlined hole in the ground we call our “pond” 🙂

    The one from the kitchen first goes through my home-made grey water “filter” ( – the birds now flock to the plants I have in that “pond” and the water loving plants it is stocked with are loving it.

    Guess it works so well because the majority of the water it gets is from our shower, and I only wash the dishes twice a day.

    Prior to installing the “filter” the pond water did become black and smelly, but, thankfully, the filter seems to be working a treat.

  4. That’s very ingenious Dani, and I love your blog!

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