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WATER – Cutting Carbons Challenge

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    If you are new to the Cutting Carbons Challenge this week – welcome!

    If you have already made cuts in the categories of Food, Debt, Transport and Energy – congratulations. I hope everyone can make a difference this week with our Water Challenge.

    Why save water?

    We want clean, fresh water to be available for future generations and for our use now. Many are already living with water restrictions, either imposed by councils or by the necessity of storing their own water. Either way, we need to look after this essential resource. Don’t forget that water is tied up in agriculture and industry too – so reducing your garbage and food packaging and also making different food choices will help save water.

    How does saving water help cut carbon emissions?

    On a large scale a lot of energy goes into purifying our water supply and it treating the waste (sewerage). The less you use, the less of a burden you place on this system, so the less energy will be used. In Queensland, the state government plans to tackle the water shortage with technology such as desalination and sewerage recycling, but these use huge amounts of energy and resources. Much better to just use less!

    On the smaller scale, many of us have water heated by either gas, electricity or wood. Even if you have solar hot water you may also require boosting from these other sources from time to time. Using anything other than solar power to heat water produces carbon emissions, so saving water, especially hot water, will help you cut your emissions.

    Setting a Target

    If you have a water meter, it’s easy to set a target based on your typical week’s consumption. For those without water meters it is a little more tricky. You might try using a basic calculator:

    Once you have a typical week’s consumption, just aim to use 10% less. Keeping records is really the key.

    Saving Water

    We all know about taking shorter showers, installing low-flow devices like shower heads and keeping garden watering to a minimum. And I am sure nobody runs the tap while they are brushing their teeth nowadays. Some other tips you may not have thought about:

    * Turn it on and then turn it down. We found that we always turn water on harder than needed, so get into the habit of turning down the pressure.

    * The On/Off Shower. Turn off the shower after you are wet and spend as long as you like soaping, shaving, shampooing, etc. Then turn on the water and rinse off. This is how I shower now – I just couldn’t fit everything into a four minute shower, so I turn off the water when I don’t really need it. This takes a lot of willpower in winter!

    * Reusing water is a big saving. Try to use water more than once. Put buckets in showers to catch water for your garden. Collect water in the kitchen sink too, but treat your garden nicely and go easy on greasy or salty water. If possible, collect some of your washing machine water in the laundry tub and bucket it back into the machine for the next load. There are a lot of ways to use greywater too – on your garden directly, into holding tanks for later use that day, or into irrigation trenches to let it flow under your garden. Just be careful what you put into your greywater – no harsh chemicals, no borax and no salt or grease – this will keep the plants happy.

    * Toilets are water monsters! Each time you flush at least 4 litres of fresh, clean drinking water gets flushed away to be treated again. Try flushing only solids, in other words: “If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down.” We have been doing this in our house for months – no problem. If you get a visitor who might be a bit squeamish, just flush before they arrive!

    * In the laundry, always use a full load in the machine. This could mean waiting a little longer to wash, doing a quick handwash, or combining items you may not have previously, like towels and sheets. Also – ask if that item really needs a wash or if it would be ok for another wear? Not a great idea with nappies, but good for day clothes and stuff you throw on to wear around the house. If you wash your sheets every week, for example, would they be ok to wash every other week? I find in winter there is less sweating, so clothes and sheets can last a bit longer between washings. Washing your clothes less often will help them to last longer too.

    * Avoid hot water. Hot water use uses the most energy, so reduce hot water use anyway you can – do you really need the water to be hot or warm? Would cold water do? Could you scrape those dirty dishes instead of rinsing them in warm water? Could you dry the dishes with a towel instead of giving them a final rinse?

    Finally, I found the best way to save water was to use it consciously. When I visit our family’s farm, they are on tank water, so I know that every drop is precious and use it accordingly. If we can just imagine that our water doesn’t come by pipes from some big supply, but is a limited resource like tank water, we can easily cut down.

    Anyways, I hope this gets you started. Here are some links to try:

    Green Harvest stocks water saving devices:

    There are also books on saving water at The Good Life Bookclub:

    Here is some further reading on the subject of our dry continent:

    Did I mention that water savings also equate to monetary savings – less energy for hot water and less water rates….


    I am in on this:tup:

    I just used the link you out in for the water usage calculator and worked out our household uses an estimation of 1560L a week:o. This week our consumption will definately be less as my daughter is away for the week so there’ll only be 2 of us instead of 3:). I use way less water in the kitchen than in the calculation method used in the link as I only wash up once a day using ~ 3 litres or less. Also at least it’s rained alot here lately so hardly any water has been used outside. My hubbie and daughter might not like me constantly reminding them to “turn off the tap” but it’spaying off as hubbie now turns it off whilst cleaning his teeth and my daughter has done for yrs !! Regular remonders pay off:lol:


    Reminders do pay off, jasali. My husband used to roll his eyes when I asked him to turn off lights, but he does it by habit now.


    I’ll be in this… my aims will be:

    1. Turning the pressure down – I do this anyway, especially with washing my hands and showering, but I will aim to be more conscious of it. My partner puts everything on full pressure which irks me no end!

    2. Not flushing with every wee… :shy: I used to not-flush religiously but in early pregnancy I couldn’t stand it anymore and am now back in the bad habit.

    3. Laundry – we only have a small machine so this one isn’t hard, and we’re slack with washing things like towels LOL. But again, will just be even more certain that the load needs washing and will designate a handwash day for the odds and ends lying around.

    4. The on/off shower… ok will TRY. LOL! I too find it hard to get under 4 minutes, unless I’m only washing myself off. Hair washing and shaving inevitably adds a lot of time to my shower! I can’t promise as I am a total wuss and well, getting the shakes is not ideal while pregnant (LOL) but I will try my hardest to do this one when I have to have a longer shower.

    The others don’t really apply atm, I haven’t watered my pots in ages because we keep getting timely rain, and I don’t overuse hot water. I would love to be able to brainwash my partner, he is a shocking water waster, we’ve spoken about it so many times but he digs his heels in on this one :(. He just doesn’t want to think about it! Any tips would be appreciated from those who’ve been there.

    ETA: the calc won’t work for me so I can’t put in an estimated usage.


    I don’t have a water metre, living in a unit we just pay rates each quarter.

    However, my two small aims would be:

    *To reuse the water from my shower in some way each day. We have our shower over the bath so I plug the bath and often the kids have a bath in it, with a little hot water to make it bearable! Other things I have done is wash the air conditioning filters in the water, wash the rangehood filters. That sort of thing.

    *Get better at saving water in the kitchen to water the plants. For example, the water I drain off the pasta, once cooled, can be poured on my plants. I often remember just after I’ve poured it down the drain!


    I’ve already cut our water usage annually by heaps. We got our meter reading the other day, and we had not used 139KL of our allocation. It’s still not the best reading, but over the last year I have set up a monster aquaponics system, dealt with all/most of the plumbing problems with that, fed and watered the ducks and chooks, the dogs, the children, the husband…

    The yard/garden doesn’t get watered at all, just a once a month spray on the dirt/not-grass at the bottom of the steps. We have a large top-loading washing machine that only ever gets run on full.

    We have septic toilets that only get flushed when necessary.

    The kitchen, bathroom and laundry all drain directly into the yard, so we can shift the drain pipes to where they are needed (to some degree)

    The shower has a different drain on it so that the water goes out through a garden hose to the fruit trees. The hose diameter is smaller than normal drain pipe, so the shower drains slowly. The kids shower with us and that is their “bath” water. 😆


    I’m in too, and I feel your pain on having a non-compliant partner Anastasia! I have no tips to pass on in that area, mine is *very * passive-agressive in that area – nods and agrees when I nag him and then proceeds to use three sinks full of water to wash up… *sigh*.

    My aims this week will be to:

    * Cut down on the water used in the toilets (the kids never remember to flush anyway, LOL)

    * Keep using the new on/off water saving thingy in the shower (shower saver)

    * Recycle the water in washing machine by using the wash water for two loads (the first one being only lightly soiled stuff).

    * Keep using the water saved in the kitchen to water the veggies and pot plants

    I can only read the kL on my meter as the other dials are obscured so I will have to estimate my use, but I am hoping to cut it by about 300L this week.


    Great ideas everyone!

    Anastasia, thats a nice, clear strategy. I think you can have some concessions for pregnancy 😉 (mine was during the hottest summer ever, so the aircon got a bit of use then!).

    Liz, you are doing really well. It is a bit harder to do all this stuff in a unit so :tup:. The cooled water from cooking veges is really good for plants (no salt though).

    Jaymie, you have made so many cuts already. I know what you mean about setting things up. We had to replace our stormwater pipe this weekend, which involved using quite a bit of water to test if it worked…

    Julie, those ideas are good. It is really hard to get other adults on board with this stuff, especially if they are ‘resistant’. My husband was really impressed with how shorter showers translated to a 50% cut to the gas bill!

    Good luck everyone!


    I did the on/off shower this morning, wasn’t that hard at all and I swear I was quicker than usual LOL!! Toilet non-flushing going well too. I’ve been really conscious of water use today, and even though I’ve washed the dishes twice I made sure to only use a fraction of the water I usually use. I WISH we had a meter but I’ll have to make do with just being really aware of it.


    I guarantee you will be saving water with those two methods, Anastasia!:tup: The shower and the toilet are really big users of water in the house.


    I’m in on this too, Suz. Hope to catch up on you all tomorrow.


    That’s great Rhonda:tup:


    OK, finally I’m here.

    We’ve been keeping an eye on our water usage for a while now. Over the past ten months we’ve used 83kL. Our reading in Sept 06 was 175, our reading this week was 256. That is 10 months where our average was 8.3. But according to my records, in March, April and May we used 7KL and in June we used 6KL. I hope we can keep reducing it.

    We use all rainwater in our aquaponics.

    Use only rainwater on our gardens.

    Use only rainwater for the dogs and chooks.

    Don’t flush the toilet every time.

    Have a water efficient front loader washing machine.

    Use the dishwasher only when it’s full – usually every second day.

    We each shower once a day for 2 – 3 minutes. I time myself with the toilet. 😉 I go to the toilet before I shower, I flush the toilet and have to be out before the flushing ends. 😆 I take a bit longer when I wash my hair though.

    And I’m generally mindful of waste every time I turn on a tap.

    I didn’t take a water reading on the first day of this challenge, but I’ll take one today and each day until the end of the challenge. I hope we can reduce our water consumption more.


    I like the way you time your shower Rhonda:lol::tup:


    Great strategies Rhonda! I’ve heard that you can also sing a song (most songs are about 4 minutes, apparently) and by the time you are done, you stop the shower!

    We have used a bit of rainwater to water in new seedlings this week, and to wash out DH’s beer bottles and fermenter ready for a new brew!

    As far as town water goes, we have made a bit of a saving by getting our son to shower with us instead of taking a bath. Because our shower now drains (slowly) out to the greywater, he gets to play in the water in the bottom of the shower that builds up.

    I have done one less load of washing than usual as well.

    How is everyone doing so far?

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