Meet the WheelersChristy Wheeler
Over the past year I have experienced a growing anxiety about the water situation in Cape Town. 2018 felt so far away, and to be honest, I’m not sure I believed that Day Zero was a reality. I knew that water was scarce and so we were doing our bit to be responsible but I didn’t actually believe we would run out.
As the year turned over and we were confronted with the reality of Day Zero, something clicked for me. I think I would say that I became a “believer”. I now believe that Day Zero is a real possibility. I also believe that I, little old me, can make a difference. Even more so when added together with the small differences of every one else. So, on Friday 19 January I radically adjusted the way my family consumes water. I also started measuring our consumption. Every. Single. Day.
From 19 Jan to 19 Feb we averaged around 20 liters per person per day (In my house there are 3 people and 2 dogs. I’m not including the dogs in this calculation).
These are the top 10 changes I made to my home which I think are making the biggest difference:
- I put plastic containers under every tap in my house (kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower and washing machine outlet)
- I turned off the tap to my toilet so we physically cannot flush with drinking water. We catch every drop of grey water and used it to flush the toilet.
- We flush our toilet much less – once in the morning before leaving the house and maybe twice in the evening.
- I added hand sanitizer to the bathroom to replace handwashing (unless needed)
- I stopped using the dishwasher and wash all our dishes by hand at the end of the day in 1 sink of water (which is then used to flush the loo)
- We change our bed linen every 3 weeks
- I researched my washing machine water usage and only do 1 load of clothes laundry a week on the most water-economical setting.
- I outsource any other laundry to Green Planet Laundry (the use treated borehole water)
- I created a showering roster. My 2 children and I each have a short shower twice a week and bucket bath any other day if necessary.
- I record our water usage every day
These are the top 10 things I’m learning on this journey:
- Knowledge is power. #knowyourconsumption
- Numbers are rewarding. Seeing our actual consumption increase or decrease on a daily basis is so empowering and encouraging.
- Every single person can make a difference and push back day zero #everydropcounts
- Saving water doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Simple changes make the world of difference.
- Most people don’t need to shower every day (it’s a privilege, not a right).
- My hair can go a week between washes!
- Toilets should never be flushed with drinking water, ever again.
- You can still flush the loo even when consuming a tiny amount of water #greywaterisyourbestfriend.
- Apparently children love to wash dishes #surprisebenefitsofsavingwater
- Be kind. Inspire and encourage people rather than shaming them. Share your tips, tricks and ideas. Give a glass of water to someone every day. Don’t let fear consume you or gain power over you. When in doubt, be generous.
I know a lot of people are looking at who/what to blame for the situation we find ourselves in – Government, politicians, climate change…the list is endless. Personally, I think it’s a sticky mess of all of them. And perhaps I’m realizing that I include myself in that list. Because I believe I am supposed to be a steward of the resources given to us and perhaps I haven’t been stewarding this resource too well up till now.
I really do believe that Cape Town will survive this crisis. Not because someone builds a desalination plant or miraculously a big thunderstorm fills our damns overnight. But because the people of Cape Town, you and me, are coming together and doing our bit. We are learning how to steward this precious resource, for the long haul, and not take it for granted.
Christy Wheeler is a member of the Bosch AM Social Justice Ministry Team and part of the Common Good staff team.