Today we present the third part of our 3-part series on how as an individual we can deploy simple measures at our home front to reduce our carbon footprint and not wait for the environmentalists to make a difference. Anjana Mehta has been practicing these do-it-yourself techniques that she uses effectively in her house in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan.
Easy ways to save water
My husband and I don't yet live on a property where it is feasible to personally store rainwater from our roof or to direct it below ground (although our residential complex does filter rainwater and allows it to seep down). Neither does our property nor the complex have arrangements to redirect cleaned waste water for flushing – though it is used for our lawns and so we came up with alternative ways of conserving it.
It is worth remembering that it is only 60 % sustained reduction in water use that kept the taps in Capetown in South Africa, running last year. Water is short all over the globe, and tremendously in India :
1. Utensils such as trays and plates for tea cups are washed just with water as they are not dirty.
2. Oily utensils are wiped with newspaper cut outs and washed after that.
3. We constantly remind our staff to regulate the kitchen tap to allow reduced flow while washing utensils.
4. Cut newspaper is used to soak up spills or dirty kitchen surfaces so there is less washing to do.
5. We dispel the myth that stored drinking water becomes 'stale' overnight and is to be thrown the next day.
6. Water left in a glass or thermos is emptied in a bucket to be re-used for other purposes.
7. RO wastewater is collected in a bucket via the waste pipe of RO elongated. The water is used for washing utensils or mopping or soaking clothes or watering the plants.
8. Guests are encouraged to cooperate with us in our endeavour by minimizing their usage of utensils during the duration of their stay.
9. We never wash any part of the floors.
10. We do swabbing only of visibly unclean parts and only when they appear dirty.
11. When feasible, the used mopping water is reused with plants.
12. Many clothes are aired and re-used or soaked in less amount of water for 30 min, wrung and dried. Only some of the clothes we wear everyday are put in the washing machine.
13. Similarly with pillow covers, sheets and blankets, reverse side of the covers are used and occasionally vigorously dusted outside. Only when a material has thus been used, is it washed.
14. Carpets and sofa covers are dusted with 'teela jharoo' (rough broom) kept for just this purpose. When occasionally grimy, they are cleaned off with hot water and powder soap, thus saving on washing them. Very rarely do they have to be washed.
15. No leaks or drips in taps are tolerated. They are immediately repaired, and until then, that tap is kept closed.
16. Concentrated liquid soap takes a lot of water to wash off. So we dilute it by almost about 100 percent.
17. A mug near the sink is used to fill water from tap and used for washing of face or brushing, rather than let the water run on in the tap.
18. We use water conscientiously for bathing.
19. While waiting for hot water to run in the taps, cold water is gathered in a bucket and re-used for soaking clothes or swabbing. It might seem a little too fanatic but that is how precious water is and we recognize it as such.
20. Only as much water as needed is used for flushing by using the dual control switch of the flush tank.
21. We recently heard in a discussion on Youtube that one could simply lower the pressure in the taps by closing the valve below the sink to the extent required. We have now done so in the bathrooms, but no shut off valve is given in the kitchen in our flat and that is something we need to work on.
Car and Garden
22. We wash our car in less than one bucket of water.
23. We use treated wastewater to water our lawns if available on day and time of watering.
24. The garden and the house is shaded with large green nursery cloth during summer, lessening the need for watering.
25. A lot of 'mulch' is left on the soil – compost, and even fallen leaves inside flower beds which again help keep soil from drying out, lessening the need for watering.
26. We grow hardy trees and vines apart from some palms and money plants, not delicate plants that would need constant misting and humid environment.
Water for cooling during summers
27. We use small honeycomb pad coolers that use only 15 litres over 8 hours compared to normal medium sized woodwool coolers that use 100 litres overnight.
28. Because we keep our home well shaded in summer day time, and open to cool breeze night long, we need coolers and even fans much less than our neighbours :
a. The hard surfaces of the house like parking area which may get hot in day time, are kept shaded with thick green cloth.
b. The windows and doors that might receive sun or even hot winds are kept closed in the day and shaded OUTSIDE by plastic curtains / roller blinds / chiks / tirpals.
c. The roof is kept cool by thick cream / white tirpal spread out over the surface of the roof.
We hope that these small practices that we have incorporated in our daily routine will help you as much as they have helped us over the years not just in conserving our environment but also reducing our water and electricity bills considerably.