We have a saying here in my lodge, “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Water shortages where I live mean that we only get around 300 liters (80 gallons) of water per week for the household – this is way lesser than what is consumed in the U.S per person per day (the average American family uses over 300 gallons of water per day at home).
This has made us wash our clothes by hand – which I think is easier than what people assume, limit flushing to a few times a day, and limiting full showers to a few times a week.
How much water are we using?
Next to flushing toilet, washing clothes take up the most water.
You would be surprised to note that it is actually toilet flushing that has had the biggest impact. A typical toilet requires 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, though some highly efficient toilets require less.
Either way, toilet flushing gulp up a whopping 25% of total household water usage, the next biggest water waster is washing clothes at 22%, then showers or baths at 16%. If you have a toilet that consumes seven gallons per flush, expect to use 12,775 gallons of water per person per year, and that’s on flushing alone.
Why save water?
Thanks to drought conditions, cities in Northern Nigeria and some African countries not excluding big cities like Los Angeles may run out of water entirely. Just a percent of the world’s water is fresh and drinkable, meaning water is precious, scarce and a vital resource.
In Nigeria and some other African countries, several cities experience several to exceptional drought conditions, which have adverse effects on both the economy and Agriculture.
READ ALSO: Amazing Benefits of Drinking Water
In the United States, eight states have at one point or the other also experienced severe to exceptional drought conditions, having a negative effect on Agriculture and the economy.
Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami, El Paso, Los Angeles, San Francisco are already on the path to running out of water entirely, with aquifers such as Edwards Aquifer not managing to keep up with the ever-expanding population and the Rio Grande drying up. The Colorado River in California is depleted.
Are there any risks with letting pee sit in the toilet?
The answer here is No. Though it is not pretty, most of us don’t hang out in the bathroom too much anyway. Keep the lid down, close the door and you will do just fine – though you should expect you will be doing a bit of scrubbing when its cleaning time (you should be cleaning your toilet once a week, flushing or not).
Unless you take a deep breath, the smell of urine is hardly noticeable, a healthy urine is about 95% water anyway with very little odor.
Germs-wise, flushing is actually a bit more dangerous (though still not very much) than not flushing. There is a considerable distance between yourself and the toilet contents sitting there, a flush can actually send germs airborne.
What about guests?
Quite frankly, the main barrier to making this change is cultural norms and taboos about what is gross. It can be a bit awkward to explain to guests what’s going down, but hey, you can make the most of it and use it as an opportunity to highlight the importance of water conservation.
Other ways to save water
To save water, only shower every other day.
While it is important that public policy address industrial and agricultural use of water, there is also a range of things people can do to conserve water at home, aside from minimal flushing. These include:
Use a timer with your sprinkler
Take shorter showers every other day (it’s not good for your skin to shower daily)
Don’t leave taps running
Only do full laundry loads, or just soak clothes in a bucket and rinse (seriously, there’s little a washing machine adds to the process, beyond copious amounts of water)
Don’t wash cars, driveways or pets with a hose (for those of us already suffering the effects of water shortages, this seems extremely indulgent and wasteful; use a bucket and rag or a broom instead)
You don’t need your own pool
Even better than toning down the number of toilet flushes is flushing with used water, like the water left over from when you soaked your clothes. When you think about it, it’s pretty insane to waste fresh drinkable water on a toilet flush.
What other tricks do you use to save water? Let us know in the comments!