Green tips – water in the garden and office

When we understand that water does not come from a tap, and that there is only a finite amount of useable water on this planet, we know that every drop is precious.

We are one of the driest country in the world and suffer droughts. South Africa’s water needs will exceed supply by 2030. Until this last week, we had been living with restrictions and water shedding remains a possibility for the still-dry Cape Province. And though things look better in Gauteng momentarily, this is a precursor of many more droughts to come.

We are thus not entitled to be careless with this limited resource of water. Now, and always, there is a need for awareness and action. The risk that we switch on the tap and nothing comes out remains a current and future prospect. Cape Town beware!

What can you do in the garden?

Make sure you have no leaking or dripping taps and washers are working.

A water tank to catch rainwater (when it comes) should be installed with every dwelling.

Growing herbs and vegetables is a good idea as food prices always increase during extended drought conditions.

Water restrictions limit gardeners to watering only with buckets in many areas of the country. Those who try to cheat the system with late night hosepipes (you know who you are) deprive us all of much-needed water.

Replacing plants with water-wise indigenous species is first prize. These are plants adapted to our harsh conditions and that work well for birds and other fauna. There are nurseries focusing only on these plants and we can share info on them.

Grey water (from baths, showers and sinks) is essential to feed into the garden but not so easy to retrofit grey water harvesting systems – some companies offer this. We catch our shower water in buckets and in a plastic basin in the sink, and from handwashing, to irrigate our garden in Cape Town, where the situation is now dire.

Watering in the evening after sunset is best to lessen evaporation. Mulch, a carpet of dry grass, leaves, bark, stones and even newspaper or cardboard is essential to limit evaporation.

And in the office?

Make all aware with signs and information and instruct cleaning staff to be conservative with water usage.

Install water filters to do away with plastic drinking water bottles. It takes seven bottles of water to make the plastic bottle, so you are in effect drinking eight bottles of water with each one! Rather install filters on the taps for drinking water or use Brita or other filter jugs and then in turn pour this into jugs to place on the tables at meetings.

Catch all washing up water in plastic tubs in basins to go to plants and gardens. I am amazed at how water much I capture this way and have started a trend amongst family and friends. My grandmother used to do this and I have started a family and friends trend doing this. A bit of dishwashing soap is ok for plants.

Do not leave water running whilst washing hands. Wet, switch off to soap and then rinse. Do not switch taps on full pressure. This wastes a lot!

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