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?
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.