June 19, 2007

Every Last Drop {Saving Water}

Every Last Drop - this is the title of the book I’m reading at the moment (Every Last Drop: The Water Saving Guide by Amy Carmichael and Craig Madden), a book which has just recently been released in Australia through Random House Publishing.

I’m only half way through, but already I’ve picked up a few new water saving tips along the way. The book seeks to inform you on ways to save up to 50,000 litres of water a year. 50,000 litres! According to Every Last Drop, the average Australian uses 100,000 litres per year... a statistic that I find very scary to say the least.

I believe I use 65 odd litres a day, on average. I have days as low as 45 litres, but if I’m honest I know there are days when the usage is much higher than that. This means I use about 23,725 litres a year, a figure which still sounds like an awful lot to me.

If I continue with being honest then I can also admit to my water usage prior to making conservation and sustainability a focus in my life (which has been the case for the past year or two) as being (according to an old water bill) closer to 160 litres a day. That means I was using closer to 57,600 litres of water per year. How shameful is that? All these stats are derived from what is on my home water bill, and from readings on the water meter located in the front garden, hidden partially by clumps of violets. I work from home so I think this gives a pretty comprehensive overview as to my total water usage, though I should add on a few litres here and there for the hours I leave the house. I should, I guess, also calculate all the water that is used to produce the food and products I use on a daily basis. Did you know that it takes 264 litres of water to produce a single glass of milk? (p.18 Every Last Drop)

Anyway, I just wanted to air my water usage, my dirty linen, to show everyone that knowledge really does equate to change. I think Tim Flannery (author of The Weather Makers) said it most eloquently when I saw him recently on TV… unfortunately I can’t remember the quote word for word, but it was something along the lines of… knowledge is an interesting thing, once people are aware of the issues they can’t use ignorance as an excuse for inaction.

Once I realized how much water was used every time the toilet is flushed (twenty per cent of the water we use in our homes is flushed down the toilet - p.83 Every Last Drop), and the shower is used... or how much power it takes to heat water, and how much energy is wasted when an electrical appliance is left on standby, I started to turn the TV and computer off at the power point, I started to have shorter showers, I started to use less hot water. Something we all can do, and something more people will be doing after they read this book, and others similar. Or even this blog.

So, if you’re in Australia (as the book is targeted at primarily an Australian audience) and you want to know how to start making changes in your life then I’d highly recommend this paperback. It explains why conserving water is so important globally, but most importantly in Australia where our fresh water supplies are under so much strain.

Some of the top tips in this book include...
"Only boil as much water as you need when you make a cup of tea – you don’t have to fill the kettle all the way up.
Wash vegetables in a basin or tub – not under a running tap.
And use grey water from your bathroom to flush your toilet."

There is also practical advice on home plumbing jobs such as how exactly to replace a washer, and handy information in regard to installing rainwater tanks and grey water systems. All things (aside from the washer) that I wish I could do around the home if I only had the $$$.

While I’m on a book recommendation posting I thought I should also mention my all time favourite green book, which is Greeniology by Tanya Ha. If you only ever get to read one book about your personal impact on the environment then this should be the one. I think it is summarized well on the Planet Ark siteGreeniology - How to live well, be green and make a difference shows you how to change your ways without sacrificing your lifestyle. A great practical guide to reducing your impact on the environment.”

So go ahead and be green. Be water wise!

***Post script***
24th June, ‘07
I’m now nearing the end of this little book and the facts and statistics have made it a real page-turner. The chapter on water use in agriculture was particularly interesting, and it was good to read some actual statistics and figures as opposed to generalisations. Cotton, rice, livestock, pasture and grain producers are all, as we know, big water users… you can find out a little more on this here, at savewater.com.au.

And for those in the northern hemisphere, the author suggests reading Diet for a new America by John Robbins. I haven’t read it myself but I thought it may be of interest for those not in the southern hemisphere. If you’ve already read it, do let me know your thoughts on it.


gracia said...

Hey there LJ,
A water post AND a book review & recommendation all in one! My, you have been a busy one. I've always been a fan of the two birds with a single stone approach (though it doesn't sound too friendly an approach, does it?)...
see you, g

nikkishell said...

I thought i was doing pretty well until i read how much water you use. 65 litres per day? Is this only for yourself? We are a family of 4 and our last water bill states that we used 337 litres per day for the last quarter. We are home most of the day every day with the exception of my husband who goes out to work. My friend and her family used over twice as much as us and they are a family of 3. I think i'll be buying this book this week. Thanks for recommendation and the kick up the butt to do even more than i do to save water.

elaine haby said...

Louise, ever my favourite greenie.... you'll be pleased to know I have implemented all of your green tips and I have stuck to them too. Grey water is perfect for flushing the loo......e

louise said...

Thanks, G.
Two birds with one stone is my favourite technique... I only wish i could implement it more often.

Hi there Nikki,
337 litres sounds really good to me for a family of 4, especially given you have young children. I can't even begin to imagine the washing up piles! I think your efforts are well deserved of a gold star! And I should also add that for the water amount, it is only my half of the usage. All up, we use 130 litres per day (2 people, on average).

We have found that the more we were conscious of how much water we used, the less we used. And luckily our shower is over the bathtub so we can collect all our grey water and then bucket it out onto the garden or use it to flush the toilet. It's been hard being as vigilant with the bucket technique now that winter is upon us though. it's freezing outside.

I think you'll really enjoy this book, Nikki... after all one of the writers is a plumber!

Thanks, Elaine,
You are my favourite greenie too. Your water bills and energy bills never cease to amaze me... so low is your daily usage!


Mommy the Maid said...

I will be checking out this book. I have been a huge recycling and reducing the need to recycle advocate lately, but I think I have been neglecting the water issue. I do the little things like turning of the water wqhen brushing my teeth and taking shorter showers, but I know that there is a ton more I can do.

This blog totally inspires me.

louise said...

Thanks, mommy the maid...

I'm thrilled that my little review has pointed you in the direction of this book. I hope you are able to unearth many other green techniques in your day to day. Happy reading!


cally said...

All your reading tips are most welcome, I find these kind of book good to read even when I'm sitting here cursing the non stop rain, cause I know that things being what they are these day, it'll flip around next month and we'll be in a drought.

Sometimes when it's pouring outside I feel like just letting my clothes washing water go down the drain, but then I think of what you guys have to deal with in Australia I fill my tubs and cart it through to the toilet instead. Every little bit helps. I should take some photo's of my water butt (rain barrel) collection to inspire more folks to collect.

Jimmy C. said...

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