The water scarcity problem is a phenomenon that is linked to both natural resources and human origin. Without enough water to meet our demands we enter a water crisis situation. The crisis is more severe in certain areas, whilst hardly felt in other more water-rich regions. There is not yet a global water shortage, but the regions that are becoming water-scarce are on the rise. As the population of the planet increases the tiny portion of freshwater available to each person is reduced. The pressure on the water resources is increasing and most of this available water is being wasted.
What can you do to help reduce your impact on the global water reserves?
Pollution is one of the main threats to our water supply.
Become more aware of your waste your household or business generates. Can some or most of the waste be recycled or reused?
Manufacturing requires the use of water and ultimately wastes a lot of water, take stock of your purchases and asses whether they are really necessary or could be substituted with more environmentally friendly options.
Sweden, for example, has become a shining example of what can be done to dramatically reduce the impact of pollution. It is now importing waste from other countries to keep the recycling plants going as less than 1% of the countries household waste is sent to the landfill. Other countries are not so effective, for example, India has poisoned their water with litter, sewage and industrial waste and is now locked in a severe water crisis.
Eat local and cut down on the embedded water demand
Embedded water or Virtual water is water that is used in the processing of the food we eat. We do not see this water in the final product but the steps involved in getting the product to you involved water. High embedded water products are meat products - the actual animals use only a fraction of the water themselves but the production of animal feed (harvest to packaging), the meat processing, transportation and packaging all use massive amounts of water.
Go Green at home with a water-wise strategy
Apart from the recycling, eating locally grown produce and cutting down on the meat, there are a number of ways to reduce your water use at home.
- Turn off the taps and fix the leaks
Liters of water go down the drain from leaky taps. The solution is often quickly fixed by replacing a washer.
- In the bathroom
Shower with less water- every minute in the shower uses liters of water. Use a water-efficient showerhead. If you prefer to bath then don't fill the bath and make sure you have a greywater system connected to reuse the bathroom water. Use a low-flush toilet or place a filled two-litre bottle in the cistern. Save the laundry for a full load and it's OK to wear items more than once or twice - but, we'll leave it up to you to make the call about your undies.
- In the kitchen
Wash veggies in a bowl of water rather than under running water. You can use this water on the garden when done. Only boil the water you need. Save water, money and energy. Steam your veggies rather than boiling - they will taste better and it uses less water. Use the leftover water a stock or in the garden once cooled. Don't wash the dishes, use a dishwasher and only turn it on when full. You can rinse the dirty dishes in your used veggie wash water.
- Cutting down on embedded water
Eat locally produced food as much as you can and cut down on meat and dairy. Kick the junk food habit. Here we have some of the biggest culprits of the embedded water problem, pollution, deforestation and dietary, medical and health problems. Stop using shortcut ingredients like packets of sauces, packets of soup, ready-mix baking and spice mixes - all these use excessive packaging, contributing to the embedded water problem and pollution. There are enough tasty recipes that use whole foods, and besides it's healthier for you in the long run. Only eat seasonal veggies and avoid anything imported. Only buy items that use minimal or no packaging. Bring your own containers if you can. Stop using bottled water and buy a water filter for your home. Fill a glass water bottle when you go to the gym, etc. Grow your own herbs and veggies - it's easy and satisfying.
- Separate your household waste
Divide your waste into organic, recycling and non-recycling. Use the organic waste (no bones or meat just the veggie offcuts, eggshells, tea bags and used coffee grounds) as fertilizer for the garden. Have a container in the freezer for the leftover bones and meat. Freeze them and only add them to the bin on bin day. This way your waste bin won't stink and will be left alone by the flies (and maggots). You can then easily skip a few bin days saving on plastic waste. Recycle everything you can recycle.
- Using water in the garden
Use the greywater system to water your lawn and non-edible plants. Keep any watering to early evening so the water has time to sink into the soil overnight. Use waterwise plants. Install a water tank or a few on the shadiest sides of the building. You can use this water in the garden. Add a pump and you have some nice pressure for the hose or the water can be used in the home. Add a water filter and the water can be used as drinking water in the home. Add a timer and some irrigation pipes you have an automated irrigation system. Connect this all to the municipal water supply and you have a switchable water system that will run off your collected water or the municipal supply.
- Saving on the roof
Save on power and the water used to generate power by going solar. Install a solar geyser for hot water. Get a grid-tied solar system to generate power during the day. Its cheaper than a complete off-grid solution as it doesn't have the storage batteries. Go off-grid and never have to worry about load shedding again. You are also saving water by not tapping into Eskom.