Drip-drip-drop

All the April showers recently here in the land of snails have been making me think a lot about water…

Nearly half of all UK water use is domestic, so I try to be thoughtful about what I do with the stuff. In particular I think it’s wrong to use drinking-quality water for things like watering plants and flushing the toilet, especially considering how much energy is needed for water treatment. It’s easy enough to install a water-butt or two if you have a garden and downspouts, but next to impossible if you don’t. We have three collecting water off the roof of the house, one on the greenhouse and an IBC (which holds a cubic metre of water) collecting from the shed roof. This may seem excessive for a relatively small garden in a wet area, but much of the saved water is used to flush the toilet… we fill the cistern manually from 5 litre bottles of rainwater. We have a hose pipe from a raised water-butt (on a wooden stand constructed by Mr S-o-h) that siphons into the bottles stored in the bathroom (we live in a bungalow, so no pumping is needed). Sounds like a fiddle, but it’s a low-tech solution and saves us some money since we are on a water meter. If we are running low on rainwater in the summer, when the priority is growing food, we save grey water from the shower and use this for flushing.

We have a low water-use washing machine, although it’s about 12 years old, so I’m sure a more efficient one would be available. Of course this raises the issue of when to replace our possessions. Currently we try not to get rid of anything unless its broken and cannot be repaired, so the washing machine stays. Actually, the embodied energy and water in any product is usually so high that this generally seems like a sensible option.

So, I try to think not only about the water that I use directly, but also that used indirectly… am I taking water from a region or country that can ill afford it because of my purchases? The answer has to be yes, so I try to be mindful of this, for example buying my coffee from Ethical Addictions, who support coffee growing projects aimed at reducing water use and supporting communities.

I’m always looking for ways to save more water, both directly and indirectly… any ideas?

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