Saturday, 16 October 2010

Friday 15th October 10 'Blog Action Day' on Water

I had a lie in.  And then a fairly lazy day.  However I did go to Country Fresh for some potatoes and a cauliflower, via St Nicks with 5 demijohns for cider-making tomorrow.  I came back via Freshways, and did a bit of compost heap loading.

I also did a good lot of fruit slicing for drying, pears, apples and a couple of hands of bananas. I turned out the quince leather stuff, membrillo, and it wasn't completely set, so it went back on the stove on a metal sheet to dry off and set a bit more. I hope.  However, it tastes FANTASTIC!!

So, a pretty nothingy day... and what has this got to do with water, being as it's Blog Action Day, with the subject of water?

Well, I try to live my life with low levels of consumption of fossil fuels, resources and of course, water.  So, as today was a 'normal' day for me, what did I do, or not do, to reduce my water footprint?

Well I have a 'pirate wash' every morning, running the cold water tap over my flannel about 6 times and after each time, wiping my body down with that.  I don't really like showers but I have a bath once a week.  And this kind of low water use wash every day.

Diet is really important when considering embodied water.  Some foods are much more 'water heavy' than others, and meat is a good example of a foodstuff which has a huge water footprint.  So if I'd had a burger for breakfast (or equivalent, say a bacon sandwich) then that could have had a hidden water use of 24 litres just for one burger and bap.  But with a vegetarian diet, the embodied water is vastly less. See this water footprint calculator for some comparisons.  For breakfast, I have a bowl of cereals and soya milk, and a cup of coffee.  For lunch I always have sandwiches... nearly always vegan, ie bread, dairy free margarine and/or mayonnaise, hummous, peanut butter, marmite or avocado.  However, today one of my sandwiches was cheese and red pepper.  Cheese has a higher water footprint than plant-based foods, so a black mark against me here.  My evening meal was macaroni and cauliflower with a soya-milk and goats cheese sauce... reasonably low in embodied water, compared to a meat-based meal at least.

The biggest direct water use in most Western houses is the flush toilet.  We have two of these in the house but I much prefer to use my home made compost toilet, sometimes known as a dry toilet or sawdust toilet.  The only water I use directly is from a water butt to wash my hands afterwards.  However, the recycled tissue paper does require water in it's production, but I'm not giving that up!!!

The other activity connected with food is washing up.  I do the washing up in our house, and I'm very careful to keep the water use down here too, although I rinse the plates and saucepans with clean water and then leave them to drip dry/air dry, rather than wiping a (dirty) tea towel all over them... a great way to get bacteria all over your washed crockery.  I re-use the washing up water in the summer in our conservatory, but at this time of year the plants don't need as much, so today, the water was just tipped down the sink and would get cleaned up at the sewerage works.

Our water use has gone up recently.  Both boys now need to wash more, being as they are getting to 'that age' where boys start to emit adult male odours, and therefore they now use the shower more, and the washing machine has a few more smelly clothes to deal with.  This means our household of four uses 92 cubic metres of water a year (it's on a meter!), which is about 252 litres a day, or 63 litres each per day (23 cubic metres per year), if shared out equally.  This is direct water use, of course, as embodied water use is much more difficult to work out.  However, I did a rough calculation using this Water Footprint Calculator and it came up with 479 cubic metres per year for my personal water footprint.

I have written a special 'page' about my water use, as I feel it is a really important subject.  This can be found in the top right hand corner of the blog, or by clicking on this.  Thanks!

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