Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to use water like a Rwandan.

Cushion just spoke to my brother in Brisbane. Apparently, the water board called to inform him that his weekly water consumption had jumped from 80 litres to 400. Did he have a leak, by any chance?

No, dear Mr Water Board Man. It was just Cushion, Georgia and me on holiday.

My brother is a frugal water user. He has a rainwater tank as well but 80 litres is pretty much the amount of piped town water than he uses in a week. I'm sure it's a meagre number, even for a 1 person household. 

Chart from HERE.
In fact, based on this chart, my brother uses just a little more water per day than the average Rwandan.

In our defence, we did a lot of cooking, cleaning and laundry in the 10 days we were with him. Not to mention, 1 laundry load for Georgia, 2 baths after swimming at muddy Nudgee, and a tub of water for cooling down after walks.
Dogs can and do account for a lot of water usage.

Ideally, Georgia would get a bath no more than once a fortnight. Unfortunately, she has dermatitis and allergies, so we end up hosing her down after almost every walk. Add that to her over-active anal glands, swims in muddy water and predilection for rolling on dead things, and she's actually likely to have a bath every week.

Our water bill went down immediately after Rufus died. He was a giant dog with a lot of fur, and was both #1 and #2 incontinent towards the end. I did a lot of cleaning after him. Soiled sheets, towels, floor, butt. 

It's amazing how quickly it all added up.

Doing laundry, the Uncle E method.
I'm not sure why my brother tops up his washing machine this way, maybe to make sure it's just enough water to cover the clothes?
Rinsing is done with rainwater from his tank. I'm afraid that tank got quite depleted during our stay. 
Grey water from the wash then gives his yard a good soaking. No lawn there! Lots of unswept leaf litter and mulching.
Notice how dirty Georgia's tub of cooling-off water is? It turned brown within a day from all the flower and leaf litter but I wasn't allowed to change it. I did suggest it, but backed off after a truly menacing glare from my brother. Instead, every morning, I used a little sieve to remove the litter and dead insects. Voila! Worked just as well. Lesson learned.

We learnt a great way to save water from my frugal brother! which thrills my frugal husband! because he's been ranting about my water wasting ways for years. Danger! You are now entering a smug zone!



Mellow yellow. I hope you know what this means because I do not want to go into details. Cushion reckons the flush is one of the biggest water wasters, despite the fact that we have half-flush toilets. So now, we follow the mellow yellow rule. My only proviso...last person to go to bed must flush. I draw the line at funky smells first thing in the morning.

And here are a few other water saving ideas we've been working on -
We changed all our tap heads from twist to flick. 

I still prefer this look but... 
Water deal: In short supply

Pic from HERE.

...I've never regretted changing over.
We did this a few years back. I think it was a great investment. However soapy, bloody or oily my hands are, I can turn the taps on and off with a nudge. I'm now so used to washing without running water, when I heard water gushing from a bathroom tap on telly a few days ago [I think it was an episode of Homeland Season 1], I had a major cringe.

. We turn the tap off when soaping or shampooing in the shower, and turn it back on to rinse. Easier in summer than winter, no doubt.

. We never turn a tap on full. Because. it's. not. necessary! Unless you have a stubborn booger stuck in the basin.

. The floor gets mopped only when it looks like it needs it, instead of 2 times a week. [My personal favourite.]

. The car gets washed only when it's cocooned with cobwebs, the bird poop on the bonnet has solidified or the neighbours are looking at us funny.

. I don't water the garden every day, but I give it a good soaking when I do. There are water restrictions in place in many parts of Australia. Here in Sydney, we're not allowed sprinklers, trigger nozzles are a must, and watering has to be done before 10 or after 4. 

Georgia's stale drinking water, leftover bath water, and water from rinsing fruit, vegies or rice also gets tossed into the flower pots. My nanny used to pour water from cleaning fish into the garden beds. It stank, as you can imagine, but it must have been good for the plants because that garden was lush!

Learning how to save water is a work-in-progress for me. I've discovered it can be both a challenge and fun, and I can't wait to see our next water bill and usage figures!

Do you have any other water saving ideas to share? 


We looked into getting a water tank some years back, but there's not enough space in our little courtyard. 

"Are you sure, Typist? They come in all shapes and sizes, y'know."


And if only we could put in a composting toilet, like this one at our little cabin in the Byron hinterland. 
The picture right at the top of this post, is the bucket of wood shavings that was sitting next to the loo. However frightening this sounds, I can assure you there was zero smell emanating from this toilet. ZERO! And I have a pretty good snout.

What do you think goes into the wheelie bin below the toilet? 
The hose is the venting system. The PET bottle is  for drawing bugs to the light, which can then be released, if you're so inclined. 


While we're at it, some reading... 
. Water restrictions in Australia.

. Sydney Water's Water Wise Rules.

. A mighty interesting Challenge.
Excerpt: "...Americans consume an average of 575 liters of water a day, while many Rwandans, who have to walk miles to collect their water, only consume 10."

. A post from Kirsten that I've wanted to share since reading. Not exactly about water, but definitely in the ball park. She's inspiring.

. And lastly, a post from a lady whose entire annual household budget for clothing is $100. Clearly, I have a lot to learn about living a frugal life.


Berts Blog said...

Boy that is surely humbling for us, as we use water most carelessly here.

I will look at water usage very differently from now on.

Thanks for the eye opener

berts My Vickie

Taryn said...

Great post! I try to conserve water the best I can, but I am sure our usage is pretty high, esp. in the summer. I definitely re-use any water I can for watering plants/garden, always turn off the tap while brushing my teeth (it drives me nuts when I see people let it run the whole time!), like you...rarely wash the car. Keeping the inside clean makes more sense anyway. Bathe the dogs out in the yard so it waters the grass too (except in winter of course). They only get bathed every couple of months unless they have rolled in something awful.

georgia little pea said...

I'm learning as I go too, VICKIE :)

TARYN, bathing the dogs on grass is a great idea! We only have a courtyard here so it doesn't work for us. We did try filling a tub with water rather than using a hose but we had to force Georgia to stand in it. Might have to keep trying ;)

booahboo said...

ok.. i have one frugal way of saving water.. :D

jeng jeng jeng



always pee in a chamber pot (all 3 of you).. maybe just two of you cos it would be hard for GLP to pee in a pot.. and save all the pee to be recycled to urmm.. water the plants.

i know "someone" here does that. *LOL*

Cowspotdog said...

That is one of the things I noticed immediately when I cane to the states - how much water they waste! Growing up in the Aussie desert we learned from an early age to conserve water every which we could and those habits are ingrained. I don't use the dishwasher, put the washing machine of the smallest amount of time, take short showers, don't leave taps running and so on. Sadly Americans have no concept of using rainwater - they think if it comes off the roof it must dirty (they have apparently never heard of filters!!)

Sherri / 2Rescues said...

I am not very good at saving water. I do use leftover water from the dogs for watering my plants, and I water the yard and / or flowers only when I am faced with the prospect of replacing the grass and / or flowers. I grow a little garden each summer in a small raised bed, so I can water only the most important stuff if I want to (the plants that provide food!). After raising two boys, I can tell you their favorite way to save water is to skip toothbrushing. Yes their breath stinks but it keeps the girls at bay too. Lol. Now it's dog teeth that I'm concerned with.

Friko said...

A small tip to save water: bathe or shower twosomes.
Humans or dogs, all sizes.

Patrice and Higgins said...

Wow your brother is a water horder! I bet he is glad that y'all are gone! BOL!!

When my mom goes to the Dominican every year, they have a rule of...If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down. It makes my mom gag!! BOL!!!


georgia little pea said...

ANNY, a chamber pot. Okay. Why not? It sounds like organic gardening :)

COWSPOTDOGS, I don't think we're that good in Sydney. Just last year, 2 neighbours put in private pools, one on our road, on on the road behind us. if I was president of the world, and thank god for humanity I'm not, I'd ban private pools. Thre are a number of public pools a bus ride away, and Dawn Fraser salt water pool in this very neighbourhood. So why?! I have to admit, I'm quite wasteful myself. Still learning how best to do laundry. I can't stand sweaty exercise clothes sitting in the basket waiting for a full FULL load.

SHERRI, that's hilarious! I'm sure many parents of teenagers at the dating age will be interested in this Method! Raising plants for food is great. Sadly, I've had zero success with herbs and veg myself. You might be using more water to grow them, but you're saving someone else doing it for you and all the costs connected with that.

Is that what you do, FRIKO? I haven't done that since the giggly early days and to be honest, I don't remember saving very much water that way ;)

HIGGINS, I bet he is, at least from a water point of view LOL. I did gag when I first saw, or rather smelt, it. But you know what? After 10 days with him, and 10 days of doing it since coming home, I actually forgot to flush when I was at my capoeira school on Monday night! I had to turn round and go back to the stall to do it :)

Barb said...

Oh - I love Friko's suggestion - leave it to her to come up with a good one. Besides, too cold here to be turning the shower water off and on.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

MOrning typist! Ms Pea is right there's even skinny water tanks that will fit anywhere (I think) In my house leaving taps running is the biggest no-no, not doing the 'flush' every time, a water-saving shower head is real must-have.
WOW, your brother is sure an inspiration for saving water. Unlike many of the other country neighbours around here this property has a HUGE raiwater tank (120,000 litre capacity) and there's the access to the river, so very very lucky.
Going back to the city is going to inspire to keep up with every water-saving tip I can use!
HOpe your day is as nice as the one here this morning.

verobirdie said...

When I need hot water, i keep the cold water to water the plants

Anonymous said...

Thank you -- informative AND funny, which means reading this would keep me awake at night.

As for the chamber pot, we're in the same state of continual drought, so, maybe, if I didn't tell anyone.

georgia little pea said...

BARB, I don't think I'll be doing it in winter. Sorry Cushion! ;)

Good morning ROSE! Yup, beautiful day here too. He IS an inspiration. I don't know how we're related. I saw the skinny tanks. That was what our Christmas dinner hosts had. Our courtyard is peculiar. Not only is it small, it comes in 3 narrow levels and has funny corners. Anyway, we'll be moving on eventually/soon and that will be something to look into at the next place! PACKING MADLY YET? X

VERO, that's a good idea! It can take forever for hot water to run and I hate seeing all the cold go down the drain.

ALTADENAHIKER, chamber pot eh. Good luck. Sorry the post didn't have the desired effect of a classic ;)

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Ahah, yes I am! the truck arrives tomorrow to collect my meagre but wordly goods of which I could not part.:)

georgia little pea said...

Have a good move ROSE! Be happy! I know you will be :) Post soon and tell us all about it okay? No more neighbours. HUGS to you and The Team X

Leema said...

It makes me so sad to see Australia up there in water consumption. Aussies use water in such stupid ways.

On another note, with Georgia's dermatitis and allergies, have you tried NOT washing her as regularly to see if it helps? Products strip dog coats of natural oils which can lead to a cycle of irritation and washing.

georgia little pea said...

Good point LEEMA! Did Georgia pay you to post that comment? ;) Totally agree with the stripping of natural oils! I wish we could wash her less often. The more or less daily hosedowns that she gets are done without shampoo. We try to target specific areas like the head, belly and legs. We read, and confirmed with our vet, that such hosedowns are helpful for washing away allergens that she might have picked up on her walks. She loves running into bushes and rolling on grass. They do seem to help. We try to avoid meds when possible. Lately, another reader suggested salt soaks. I have tried both this and oatmeal soaks but unfortunately Georgia is a wimp about getting into a tub. I think we might have to push her on this! Thanks for your insight!

Karen said...

I sort of follow the "mellow yellow" rule and flush the toilet after three uses. BTW, I HATE low-flow toilets since you usually have to flush them several times to get things down.

Since I don't have a "real" job where I have to interact with people and I'm not a "smelly" person, I usually shower every other day.

I use the dishwasher to was wash dishes. You'd be surprised at how much water you save when you don't hand wash.

I absolutely refuse to water my lawn, I think that's the worst waste of water ever. If the lawn goes brown, so what? I have perennial plants in my gardens that have lasted about 8 years. When I planted them, I laid down a very good mix of mulch and compost which keeps the moisture in the soil. My garden only needs to be watered when things get really desperate.

Bathing the dogs? Jersey & Dexter haven't had a bath in over a year. One of the benefits of having dogs that aren't smelly :D If they do need a touch-up, I soak a microfibre cloth in water and give them a wipe down. If someone is still a little stinky after that, I have a "febreeze" type spray for dogs that takes care of that.

georgia little pea said...

KAREN, thanks for that! Lovely tips. Georgia would like to know if she can move in with you.

Doesn't your half flush give you the option of full? The lawn is a sucker. We're encouraged not to have one here, but to go for natives instead. It just doesn't make sense to have a green lawn in the driest continent on earth!

Jean said...

Hey GLP, my mama saves water by not bathing me at all. Okay, de groomer bathed me once, but dats the only bath I ever had since coming to live here over a year ago. I gets brushed lots though. I'z allergic to all shampoos, even the ones that aren't 'sposed to cause allergies. So even if I had a bath, I wudn't need to be rinsed.
My mama haz one of those front-loading, energy/water saving washers, but I bet yer Uncle's method uses less fresh water than that.
Maybe mama could stop putting icecubes in her scotch. That would save a lot of water, eh?
Yer friend, Eddie

Jean said...

Oh, and I think my mama has the frugal clothing lady beat. I don't think she spends more than $50 a year on clothes. Just about everything she buys (except underwear) comes from the thrift shop at 2 or 3 dollars an item. My clothes cost more than hers.

georgia little pea said...

HAHAHA!!! I never thought about ice cubes in drinks. I shall have to count how many Cushion uses in his. It might make me feel better. So Georgia is I think officially The Most Bathed Dog In The Universe. She probably wishes she was allergic to shampoos but I'd probably find something else to wash her in if she was! Your mama could buy 4 items with what I pay for 1 pair of knickers and they're a mass brand. Gotta move! No doubt about it.

georgia little pea said...

P.S. that 100 is Pamela's HOUSEHOLD budget which includes her, her hubby and possibly even Honey her dog. I think she beats your mum! ;)

Tootsie said...

The whole schnaa of your post is total wotten waven! And Mom is cringing because Dachshund Daddy (should I call him Frugal Dachshund Daddy?) is going to enter the Land of Smug when he reads your post!

Wag on,

georgia little pea said...

Oh goody, TOOTS. It's nice to "suffer" in good company. A toast to the yellow?

P.S. he reads this blog? Wotten waven! X

Declan said...

Blimey, I swear Mum uses 150 litres every time she showers, which is supposed to be out weekly usage over here! Still we have just invested in a water butt to take water from the guttering, though currently it is overflowing.....hmmmmmm Deccy x

3 doxies said...

Oh dear gawd, I am so HAPPY there is actually anudder weirdo like my dad! Though he is just stingy with da water...he bypassed frugal long ago. He takes a shower with a bucket to catch da water...when he be at home. Howevers, most of da time he takes a shower at da gym so as not to use OUR water. And honestly, I couldn't tell you da last time he washed his car. His old truck STILL has da writting on it from when him and mum gotted married...11 years ago!
Mum is a clean freak so water is her furiend, but only uses it when dad is at work...hehehehe. Can't stand to hear him bitchin'.


3 doxies said...

PS: We follow da Mellow Yellow rule too...sigh.


georgia little pea said...

PUDDS, I hereby declare your dad the winner of The Inaugural Frugal Water User Award. Congratulations! I bet Cushion will be taking notes.

Pamela said...

I'm so touched. i just read your stirring defense of my clothing budget to Jean. You are fierce. And yes, it also includes shoes and the occasional purchase of expensive organic underwear. Some things I'm just not willing to buy used.

I am inspired by this post. For an American, I'm a frugal water user. I have a good low flow toilet that we don't flush with every use. I collect water in a rain barrel.

And we no longer have a car to wash (the winter road salt requires weekly washing to keep the frame from rusting).

But I could do more. We don't harvest grey water, for instance. And I do love a good hot shower in the winter. Every time I take one I say to myself, "This is so decadent. I love this. How will I ever live on a boat?"

We've already decided to install a composting head. If we remove the waste tank, we'll have more room to store water. But the best thing is to use as little as possible.

I guess I'd better start practicing. Would your brother willing to offer a correspondence course?

Or perhaps I could start walking to the library in the next town to get my cooking, drinking, and bathing water like a Rwandan. That should do it.

Anonymous said...

When you live in an RV, water saving is a way of life. We are never hooked up to water and have to go get water in jugs and fill the tank. Conservation is easier than hauling jugs every day.

Dogs in Brazil said...

Great ideas for the dry season here we either have to much or none at all. Huge hugs from all of us here in Brazil.

georgia little pea said...

PAMELA, if we all had to collect our water like a Rwandan villager, or lived in an RV like ROXY.... Imagine how much water we'd save! These days, when I wash up, I pretend I'm camping in the bush. It's a good scenario to play in my head because it makes me creative about how to use the water. Who would have thought saving water could be so enjoyable? LOL.

Your boat adventure sounds so close now! You're into the nitty gritty already. There's no hot water on boats? In winter, I don't think I could be so water friendly. I need my hot showers! Especially when my body is aching and falling apart after 2 hours of capoeira.

Organic knickers eh? ;)

georgia little pea said...

AHHHHHH! Its okay PAMELA. I suddenly understood what you meant about showers on boats ;)

Also forgot to mention... A rain barrel is a great idea! In fact, now that I think about it, my parents used to collect water in giant pots located here and there in their sprawling garden. They were pretty frugal in other ways too. If only I'd picked up on that a bit earlier!

LetterstoAndrew said...

While I don't turn the shower on and off to save water, I have cut my showering back to about 3 times per week. Unless I truly need a shower. :-) I tried turning the shower on and off while I suds, but it's too cold right now. :-( I suppose I could do better with the dishes though.

Anonymous said...

Hello GLP and Typist!

We've been trying to post but not having any luck so we are resorting to email. Very informative post! Figures, we have big fat portions and big fat people here in the US. And now I know we are water gluttons too!
I've always turned the water off when I brush my teeth but will now do more.

GLP we were very happy to hear you survived your run in w/the fish hook. Don't know if that comment made it.

It's cold here tonight :(

Be well!

Your NYC pals,
Olivia & Petey

Karen said...

@GLP We don't have a water saving toilet, but a few of our friends do. Even with the full flush option, it never really cuts the mustard with just one flush.

jet said...

yes, we do the mellow yellow rule too

we don't wash the dogs, just take them to the beach if they are smelly...

try to rewear clothes as much as possible as the washing machine is a big water waster (even though it's an ultra efficient machine)

... I barely ever mop the floor! it looks bad at the moment because last weekend we had a foster puppy and lots of muddy paws in and out of the house but I haven't mopped yet... that makes me a bit dirty, sure, but I don't mind...

Short showers... and only one a day! Sometimes we break this rule...

Never wash the car unless we have been kayaking and there's salt water on the car... and wash the car with a bucket, only use the hose for the final rinse...

Our consumption is twice your brothers', and we don't have a rain water tank, though I might be able to squeeze a small one in somewhere.

georgia little pea said...

That's impressive JET, especially without a tank. And you did say OUR? My brother is a 1 person household. Well done! :D