3 Super Simple Ways to Use Less Tap Water

Clean drinking water is Canada’s most precious natural resource, yet we are constantly flushing it down the toilet and pouring it on the ground. Literally. Think about it – we flush our toilets and water our gardens with water that is processed, treated and purified for drinking… and we pay drinking water prices for it. Does this make sense? We think not, so here are a few low-tech, super simple and highly uninventive things that we do to reduce our day-to-day household water consumption. (I stress the simple because they are things that you, dear reader, could start doing right now!)

1. The bath water “greywater” system - Like all parents, we draw a bath almost every evening for our little kid to wash away the day’s accumulated grime. But when she’s squeaky clean and out of the tub, we don’t pull the plug. Instead, we use Sophia’s bath water to flush our toilet. We simply keep a 3L jug next to the bath and scoop a jug (ahem, or two) into the toilet to flush. Booyah – the lowest-tech, simplest greywater system you can think of!

In the month of April, we kept a piece of paper and a pen taped to the wall in the bathroom to keep track of each time we flushed with bath water. In total, we used bath water for 160 flushes! With a 6L toilet tank, that’s 960 litres of drinking water saved in just one month… that’s 11,520 litres in a year! (And I should note that we did not take showers standing in dirty bath water… the tub was often drained before it was completely empty.) Seriously, try this for one month and it will become second nature in your family bathroom routine.

Sophia Squishy Face and Back yard water barrel and water savingMay 17, 2013-81130517May 17, 2013

160 bath water toilet flushes in April!

2. Rain barrels for outdoor watering - We have 4 rain barrels around our house – 2 in the backyard, 1 in the front and the other currently undergoing some repairs but will soon be on the side of the house. To water the garden we fill up large water cans and do it manually. Watering by hand may sound like a daunting and time-consuming task, but it is actually one of the most pleasant and meditative parts of our daily routine. We usually water in the evening after our daughter Sophia has gone to bed; beer or cup of tea in hand, we poke around the garden and see how everything is growing, do a little weeding and enjoy the sounds of the backyard. (Note: We do use a garden hose for watering if several days without rain have left the barrels empty.)

You can get a 220L rain barrelĀ  for $55 in Ottawa! Check out rainbarrel.ca. Rainbarrel.ca barrels are sold via fundraising events by various local community groups (e.g. sports teams, boys scouts, girl guides.) Check out the events page of their website to locate an upcoming fundraiser in your area. Another bonus – if you live in Gatineau you can get a $50 rebate from the city on the purchase of a rain barrel!

Rachel and Sophia watering from the rain barrels.

Rachel and Sophia watering from the rain barrels.

3. Kitchen sink “greywater” for watering houseplants - Not surprisingly, we have quite a few indoor plants which require watering once or twice a week. We use “waste” water from washing veggies in the kitchen sink to do all of the indoor watering. It’s simple – instead of running water over your veggies and down the drain, soak your veggies in a salad spinner (with the basket in) to clean them. Then remove the basket of veggies and pour the waste water into a small watering can or directly onto your plants. Easy peasy. We also use “waste” water from rinsing out the coffee bodum and tea pot for watering house plants.