I am sure we can barely imagine life without indoor plumbing, but with the convenience comes waste… get it? Waste. Sorry for the potty humor.
Toilets account for about 30% of a Canadian household’s water usage.
I have always put jars of water in the back of my toilet tank to reduce water waste by displacement. Recently though I have started something new. *Leans in and whispers* I flush my toilet with grey water.
Grey water is lightly used water, from sinks, washing laundry, dishwashers et cetera. To start using grey water, I simply put a bucket in the sink to catch the used water from washing hands and brushing teeth. I must warn you, your toilet water will always look murky and the bowl will not be the sparkling porcelain you once revered. This is easily fixed when company comes over by flushing the toilet as you normally would and giving is a quick once over with some white vinegar, baking soda and a toilet brush. Chemicals going down the toilet are concerning if you care about being environmentally friendly.
I have implemented the old adage “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” which gives me the time to catch enough grey water to flush the toilet which uses up to 1.6 gallons of water per flush (approximately 6 litres).
I have always tried to be more thrifty with water, and in the city I live in it is easy to be held accountable for my consumption because I get a water bill. There in black and white is my usage measured in cubic meters. Usually I am rather frugal with the H2O. I hand wash dishes, I only do full loads of laundry twice a week, I don’t leave water running and I usually turn the water pressure down so that less water is being wasted when I turn on the tap. I also have rain barrels outside. Over this past summer though I had an atrociously high water bill from watering my veggie garden. My consumption jumped up to 84561 litres/84.56 cubic meters. I was horrified! I pay $1.15 a cubic meter in and $.97 a cubic meter out (by the way, the water company calculates the out going water at about 90% of your incoming). Receiving this bill was the point that opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to get more aggressive with my water saving tactics. Next year we are going to install a more efficient irrigation system and I am looking at the possibility of mulching techniques to reduce evaporation. I also am hoping for a more efficient laundry suite. *Looks over at husband *Hint Hint Nudge Nudge.
There is one new thing I do in our household that actually does use more water. I use a sprayer hooked up to my incoming water valve on the toilet to wash my backside after using the toilet. It is like a poor man’s bidet. Now the reason for this is not just about improved hygiene but about lessening the toilet paper I use and flush. Using less toilet paper means less biosolids that will need to be dealt with. If you don’t know what biosolids are and how Canada deals with it, I have one word for you… HUMANURE. Don’t believe me? http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/earth-day-is-sewage-sludge-safe-for-farm-fields-1.2606919 I was appalled when I found out. That seems like such a third world concern.
I’ve been making changes slowly so that they stick. I do not want to be overwhelmed by my lifestyle choices in my quest to live more gently, but I realize every little thing I change for the better is making a collective difference. I think that deserves a pat on the back or at least a figurative gold star for effort.
There are many places around the world suffering from a lack of water and to me it seems silly to waste a resource just because I have an abundance of it. I mean really, how irresponsible is it that we use clean drinking water to flush our toilets?