I have just started reading a brilliant book, Living the good life by Linda Cockburn. It is about a family in Australia who try to live without money for six months. I would recommend it for the read as much as any information you glean and I think I will glean a lot. What I particularly like is that this is a living story, one where theory is put into practice and the reader can assess for themselves if the experiment is worth it.
However, this post is not about Living the good life. Before we get there (in any sense of the phrase), there is an issue I would like to raise from another book I’ve just read about living well on less money and in doing so hopefully having a more sustainable lifestyle. On the whole, there were some interesting pieces of advice but……
I was really taken aback to read the author suggesting that saving water was not worth the effort (except that plants preferred it to tap water) as in Britain we generally had plenty.
This year, until it rained in June, parts of England were actually in drought. Where I live the organic farm, along with domestic premises, had been banned from watering their vegetables (!!). Saved rainwater was allowed (phew) but what if they hadn’t stored any and the heat plus lack of rain had continued?
Last year, in parts of the country, the situation was critical. Where my parents live, it was so dry that the birds tore the leaves off every plant they could get at, stripped them bare. While it did nothing for their garden, I suspect the long term impact on the bird population was even worse. And farmers were losing their crops or having poor crops, which can hardly be considered advantageous.
Of course, it would be difficult for farmers to save enough water to see them through a drought. However, if the domestic population made an effort to reduce the amount of water it consumed, there would be more for pastures where milk cows graze, wheat fields, etc etc etc. Seems like a no-brainer to me!
I think the main tenet of the aforementioned book’s argument against saving water was that it would not have much of an impact on the household’s bill. Starting from the premise that the author is correct, even if the impact is only a reduction of £5 a year, that is five pounds for me instead of the water company. I can think of a lot of things that I could do with that five pounds 🙂
However, I think that the impact could be much bigger than that. I try as far as possible to give the water I take from the tap a second use. For example, after washing up the pots I use the water in the bowl to soak any pans/dishes which have food burnt or stuck on. Before I started doing this, I used to fill the relevant pan or dish with water straight from the tap, which over the course of a year would have been many hundreds of litres (up to the equivalent of half a toilet cistern of water each time).
Then there is the use that collected rainfall can be put to if it isn’t needed in the garden. So far, having run out of storage, I have used this water to flush the toilet. Only occasionally but if altogether that has saved me 100 litres, at a guess, multiplied across the country that would be quite a reduction in consumption. Anyway, I’m also thinking of using the rainwater to wash my car… when I eventually get round to washing my car. And I am sure there are many other uses I will think of as time goes by, where it isn’t necessary to have bacteria-free water and I don’t need to feed it through my plumbing to be able to use it.
NB The poll is anonymous.