I’m on a water meter. I had it put in when I first moved into the house, because economically it made sense – as a rough rule of thumb, if there are fewer people in the house than there are bedrooms, they’re worth it. Well, this is a 4-bedroom house, and at the time there were just the two of us. To be strictly accurate, there was just the one of us, as my husband was working away. And there’s just the one of us now, as he left for good back in February.
We were paying £29 a month for our water. Does that seem like a lot to you? It seemed like a lot to me. But with only me in the house, it should be possible to cut it down. Half as many loo flushes, half as many showers, half as many cups of tea, fewer loads of washing.
Shortly after he left I rang the water company and asked if I could reduce the monthly outgoings (I like to meet these things head-on). They suggested that I spend a month on my own, and then we could agree on a monthly charge based on my usage. Seemed fair enough.
And then I thought – what if I reduce the amount of water I use by more than half? What if I economise like billy-o for this month and get the monthly charge down as low as I can possibly manage. Then, I can increase my usage back to ‘normal’ – but it’ll take the water company a little while to catch up, by which time I might be on more of an even keel money-wise. Totally worth a go.
So for a month I did just that. I really squeezed every last drop of use out of every last drop of water. I only flushed the loo when I ‘needed’ to, I didn’t have baths, I only showered after I’d been to the gym (don’t panic – I go to the gym every other day – and I was still washing, even if I wasn’t showering!) I was generally extremely frugal – clothes washing only done when there was a full load, nothing wasted. It worked!! They decided they could reduce my bill down from £29 a month to £12!!
I’ve eased back a bit now – back to having a shower every day (phew!), a bath when I feel like it, and of course I’ve had to start watering the garden.
It’s made me realise just how much water I was wasting. Not willfully – I wasn’t cleaning my teeth with the tap running, or having baths that overflowed. But nevertheless, I realised I’d been wasting water, and that bothered me.
The thing that shocked me most was the amount of perfectly good clean water that simply wasn’t being used, because I was waiting for it to get hot. Time spent watching good water pour straight down the drain. Just for fun, I put a bucket under the shower, to see how much I was wasting. More than half a bucketful! More than enough, in fact, to flush the loo. Nothing at all wrong with the water – just not quite the right temperature yet.
So, at the risk of everyone thinking that I’m completely barmy, that’s what I’m doing. I’m putting a bucket under the shower while it warms up, and harvesting the water to flush the loo. I think this puts me firmly in the ‘eccentric’ box. *Shrugs shoulders*
I’ve been doing it for a while now – I’ve hesitated to put it ‘out there’, on account of not wanting people to think I was crazy. Hell, if I heard that you were doing this, I would think you were crazy, so why wouldn’t you think I’m crazy?? Sometimes being crazy is the only sensible course of action.
But it still doesn’t feel right. After all, it’s perfectly good clean water. It’s about the same quantity as a small child is expected to carry in a Water Aid advert.
And that’s just the shower!! How much more water do I waste when I let the tap run so that I can wash my hands in warm water, or when I’m running the bath?
I reckon all of my water saving has come purely from not wasting it, rather than from cutting back on the amount that I actually use. I still shower, I still have baths, I still use the washing machine and the dishwasher. But what I don’t do is waste it. It’s not just about money going down the drain. It’s about whether I have the right, morally, to allow good water to pour out of my taps and away down the drain without even being used, when there are huge swathes of the world where there isn’t enough for drinking.
There will come a time – and I don’t think it’s so very far in the future – when they won’t believe that we used to use drinking water for flushing the loo.
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