It was a challenge, but how challenging was it? And will it continue be?
Today is World Water Day and also the last day of my week-long Water Challenge posed by WWF Singapore. I’ve managed to reduce my individual water usage by 70% through these 5 measures:
- Running water at half tap at all times (applies to all the measure below)
- Using a mug when brushing my teeth
- Turning off the shower when soaping up
- Half flush my toilet when I’m only doing small business
- Reuse water from washing produce such as rice and vegetables to water my plants
Within the first day of the challenge, I have been able to cut down my daily water usage by an estimated 70%. That’s not including other large water-consuming household activities such as washing machines or dishwashers. But, it was a significant 59 litres of water saved – 40% of the 151 litres used by an average Singaporean each day! Who cares about a 30% water hike if we can reduce usage by 40%?
Nice as it sounds, am I really able to keep up with these 5 habits every single day of my life?
Firstly, I have to set the premise for my past consumption habits around water – I have an OCD with regards to cleanliness. Not an extreme one where you’ll find me scrubbing my hands furiously under water every five minutes. But the sensation of soap and running water pleases me. The first thing I’d do stepping into the bathroom for a shower is to give the bathroom floor a rinse. I know – it’s weird. So you can imagine the kind of mental tussle I go through each day to try and stick to the five measures.
I’ve shared my initial enthusiasm and feelings after the first day of implementation on the WWF Singapore blog. But here’s the verdict on each of them after one week:
💧 indicates my affinity for each measure.
1. A Mental Trap with the Half Tap 💧💧💧
It really takes mindful water usage to keep the water flowing only at half tap. But once you start, you can’t stop. After 2-3 days, I’ve stopped turning on taps to their full extent. Funny thing is, my evolved obsessions is with how I can turn on the tap at its lowest level.
At half tap, I realised that the flow of water was still sufficient and I didn’t need to spend more time doing the dishes or washing my hands to feel clean. So , really, water used at full tap instead of half tap is just wasted.
However, with the tiniest stream of water flow, I do have to spend slightly more time under the water to reach a broad surface area. And I do. But I still manage to save water because my flow rate is at 2 litres(L)/min instead of half tap at 3.
2. I am no Mugger 💧💧
Trying to adopt the habit of using a mug to rinse my mouth when brushing my teeth was a challenge. I had a recorded use of 1L for one teeth-brushing session even though the mug could contain 400mL because there was a need to still wash the foam from my mouth and afterwards, the mug.
There were mornings when I forget to take the mug, or if I stayed over at my boyfriend’s place, there was no mug for rinsing. Anyhow, the idea of a common rinsing mug still doesn’t jive well with me. But I’ll definitely try to incorporate that into my bathroom routine when I get my own place and personal bathroom in Berlin.
3. Jet Shower instead of Rain Shower 💧💧💧💧
Thankfully, I’ve always turned off the shower when I’m shampooing or soaping up. And that’s also because I enjoy a good head massage and body scrub. What the challenge made me realise, though, is that there are still pockets of time when I’m standing under the running shower longer than necessary. You know how sometimes your minds drift off to a different world… especially when you are naked in the shower. 😏
Another trick that I’ve picked up is to switch the shower head from rain shower to one with a small spray area. With the rain shower, a lot of water is wasted outside your body’s surface area and it doesn’t really work on a half tap.
4. Half Flush with Minimal Slush 💧💧💧💧
Most toilets have the buttons to distinguish full flush from half, so it shouldn’t be tough to press the half button for most. My half flush button at home doesn’t work, so I improvised to pushing the full flush button halfway – worked just great.
I have to admit that the power from a half flush is diminished, and toilet paper doesn’t always go well with it. So I’ve also been consciously trying to minimise the amount of paper used per call of nature! (Again, opening another can of worms regarding my consumption habits.)
5. Preparing a Meal Feeds My Family and Plants 💧💧💧💧💧
Rice water is nutritious and great for the health of plants. My helper has no qualms putting aside water from washing rice for the 5 potted plants at home. And my plants have grown thick and healthy from them!
Wat, er, conclusion did I arrive at?
As much as these are good habits that I strived to adopt, it was a discovery of all the bad habits I’ve cultivated over the years. Especially when half tap or full tap didn’t feel any different! And really, is there a need to rinse the bathroom floor before showering? (Obviously not, though I still have trouble kicking the habit.)
At the end of the day, it boils down to mindfulness – being mindful of water as a precious resource and being aware of how we’re using or abusing it. As with many other consumption habits – over-buying, over-eating, over and over again.
Our minds overwhelm us, and then, we overwhelm the earth.
PUB has also a list of water-saving habits published, as well as guides for foreign domestic workers, translated into their local languages! Here’re some lovely posters simplifying water-saving habits for the household:
Disclaimer: This article is not paid for or endorsed by PUB. It is written purely in the author’s personal capacity.