Level 6B Drought save water river Karoo Drought Relief

The following open letter, written by an anonymous Capetonian is going viral… for all the right reasons.


At the risk of being the arsehole who rains on your parade, again, (and uses a double metaphor, again), I hate to burst your bubble, but you aren’t going to make the slightest dent to the water crisis by suddenly trying to save our dams by brushing your teeth using a glass of water instead of a running tap.

Listening to Capetonians phoning in to 567 Cape Talk this afternoon was a lot like listening to obese dieters explaining how they were now going to now take 1 sugar in their tea instead of two.

It’s not going to do anything. Except make you feel better. Belatedly.

Stop kidding yourselves and trying to fool everyone else.

Seriously. One guy phoned in and said how you can eat on paper plates to save washing up. (I respectfully deleted the phrase “Jesus Wept” here. I tend to overuse it. But replace it with something similar).

We got our daily usage down to 65 litres per person, per day. It’s not complicated. It won’t even hurt. Seriously, if our family can do it anyone’s can. We’re practically dysfunctional. Just think, you could be the one writing sanctimonious hints lists, instead of me.

Here are the six most important low hanging fruit that will save you the most water. No question. And you can then avoid having to brush your teeth in a glass of water.

1. Know how many litres of water you use per person per day.

The city wants this to be less than 100 litres per person, per day. You can easily get to 75 litres per person per day with only a few basic changes. None of which involve a toothbrush glass or paper plates. First thing though. Before you start: Walk outside. Find your water meter. Write down the number. Next week do the same thing. Divide it by seven. Divide it by how many people live in your house. Write it down. Don’t do this in the dark without your Clicks +1.5 reading glasses. It’ll piss you off. Do it every month. I know, it’ll take you seven minutes. Life’s a bitch.

2. Pardon my French, but F#ck your swimming pool.

Turn off the filter. Shut your pool down. Do not backwash. Do not top up. Put on a nice blue pool evaporation cover to hide the black & green swamp it will become. If you don’t, that’s okay – but don’t come with your bitching toothbrush glass of water. Ever. No, you won’t be able to brag about how clear your water is or about how clever you are, but it will be okay. Have a beer.

3. Choose your plants and F#ck your lawn

Don’t water your garden. Ever. This winter, plant robust indigenous plants. They’ll stay green for the next decade while we transition a drier climate. Use your grey water on selected plants. 200 litres of grey water, at 2 litres of water per plant per day, and you can keep 100 plants green. You choose. Your lawn will look brown and dead and dusty. So should your neighbours. It sucks, I know. You’ll get used to it. People won’t judge you. They’ll be relieved your lawn looks as kak as theirs.

4. Shower don’t bath.

Surprisingly, for someone with an A+ for being an arsehole, I actually love long, hot, relaxing baths. It was a bitch giving them up but I got used to it. So can you. Replace the comfort of a hot bath with the comfort of something else. Like alcohol. Instead of a long, relaxed, hot bath, have a short, business-like shower – and a long, relaxed cold glass of chardonnay. Fit water saving shower heads. No, they won’t come with a water pressure massage option, but you’ll hardly use any water. Stop bitching, there are more important things in life. Take up yoga. Walk a labyrinth. A bath uses 150 to 200 litres per bath. A nice, hot, pressure shower will use 50 to 75 litres. You will use 20 to 25 litres. No, you don’t need tools to fit a shower head. If you can work Facebook, you can replace the shower head.

5. Like Caddy-Shack. Nobody wants to see your number two floating there, but you can flush less. Much less.

Every flush uses about 15 litres. Pee in the garden, whatever, just don’t flush half your daily fresh water quota down the toilet.

6. Washing Machine & Dish Washer

Wash less clothes. Actually wash more clothes, less often. Fill the machine more, wash on eco cycles. And trust me. Your kid’s clothes aren’t that dirty that they can’t often just wear them twice. You’d be amazed how many clean clothes get put into the wash. When we put our mind to it we could do a third of the washes we used to do. At 200 litres per wash, that’s a shitload of water. And a bigger shitload of little glasses of toothpaste water.

Remember when doctors used to advertise cigarettes’?

Remember when your parents used to give you little candy and chocolate cigarettes in lifelike cigarette boxes in your Christmas stockings?

Mind-blowing, right?

Well, in ten years time our kids are going to be mind-blown and say; “Shit, remember when mom and dad used to flush clean drinking water down the toilet?” or clean the car with clean drinking water eh?

Already seems a bit crazy now.

Sources: Facebook
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Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.


  1. Root cause of water crisis…..INFRASTRUCTURE and our DISFUNCTIONAL GOVERNMENT

    While everyone pats themselves on the back for saving water retrospectively, ask yourself why we are in this position in the first place.

    All these water saving initiatives are reactive rather than proactive.

    The reality is that one winter will not fill our dams.

    Do you honestly believe that lack of rain is the root cause for a major city running out of water? You would be stupid to believe this.

    The reality is that nationally, the WATER LOSS from PIPELINES are as high as 50%.

    So stop praying for rain….rather expose our corrupt and disfunctional government. Demand answers as to why maintenance has not been done and what the future plan is to repair and improve our infrastructure.

    The whole situation is so fucked up!!! Consumers are being placed under pressure by the municipality to make small water savings (no mention re consumption in industry). The real long term solution is to turn the tables around: Consumers should be demanding a maintenance roll out plan from the municipality, with actual spend vs budget spend targets, coupled with WATER LOSS REDUCTION TARGETS over the next few years, this bench marked against international standards! Did you know that this pipeline inspection and repair technology has been available for at least 2 decades now!

    Also what is the plan around infrastructure development to support water supply for a growing population?

    Remember the days when we had ELECTRICITY load shedding = disfunctional government that did no maintenance and/or infrastructure planning for 20 years before pulling their fingers out their arses and then raping the tax payers with 3x budget overspend to build new power stations. (I know this because I walked out of a dinner meeting in Witbank with a corrupt ESKOM buyer that scheduled the meeting after hours in a dark restaurant and after eating a whole chicken himself, ordered another take-away for his wife. I walked out and left him with the bill as I was not willing to grease his palms).

    Have you ever asked what the municipality would do if we actually did run out of water? In a sadistic way I would have liked this to happen; just to expose the corruption that has prevented money spend on maintenance of our infrastructure.

  2. Great post, but drink beer instead of wine, our wine industry is bleeding the dams dry, plus there are dams that are 80% full in the Western Cape, but they are reserved for wine growing.

    Brent, I agree that the local government has a lot to answer for, but they are not responsible for a rapid growing population and lack of rainfall.

    1. beg to differ – our Govt IS responsible for the rapid growing population!!!! They think numbers are power and we know for a fact that numbers make you poor! The govt hands out grants to teenagers who are pregnant – now where does that keep the population down??

  3. What about all that swimming pool water? Couldn’t it be used to flush the loo?

    Not sure how being empty would affect the pool though.

  4. What about eating less meat? Meat consumption cost a lot of water. Might not be the most desirable for most, but is effective and needed. Just a couple of chops and bacon rashes less has never hurt anyone and you’d actually be making a difference

  5. Number 4, we use all our bath water for the toilet saving us R300 a month on water. We use far less water for the bath than stated and showering has the disadvantage of losing the water if you have no way of collecting it. Not everyone uses the said amount of water for a bath so I wouldn’t entirely agree with that theory.

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