Saving Water 201: When Nature Calls

The water situation in the Cape is still spectacularly dire. If you want to read up about it, here are some articles from City of Cape Town, eNCA and News24 to get you up to speed, and my previous blog post about the basics of saving water.

So, ever the problem-solver, I’ve been wondering how I could step up my game. This is the part where the super-squeamish among you need to close the browser and step away from the screen. Not that I think what I’m about to divulge is unhygienic, but I know the preconceived ideas out there. I know that what I am about to tell is going to gross a few people out because it already has. That said, some people have thought quite the opposite, so I hope to win a few people over because I seldom do things of this nature without good reason.

Most of us know by now that when you flush a toilet, along with your delivery, you are also flushing away roughly 9 litres of treated municipal water. What many people don’t know is that urine is actually very good for plants (and lawns). Men have been urinating in nature for time immemorial, but us girls, hell no. Well, it’s mostly a practical limitation, to be honest. We can’t just whip it out and let loose.

Photo credit: Lubomir Manzheley

However, that doesn’t mean our hands are tied. Enter the permaculture course I attended roughly a year ago. I thought about this limitation for a while and then realised that peeing in a bucket is pretty much the same as peeing in a toilet. If I discarded the toilet paper in the toilet bowl, only using one-ply, I only needed to flush after a few pees. But then I thought, it seems a pity to flush just paper down the pipes. Surely there was a solution for that too? So, enter another bucket with a bit of water in, and a plain old face cloth, that doesn’t come near my face but well … the other polar extremity.

The result? For all my urination needs at home, I pee in my designated bucket. I use hardly any water for flushing anymore, and the same goes for toilet paper. Ha, double saving. Let me make it clear – it’s not my intention to gross anyone out. I’m hoping that somewhere logic will prevail and the practicality of this will be understood. Plants love it. I am quite sensitive to general hygiene and wellbeing so manage my new habit well. My house does not smell of pee. I rinse out the bucket with grey water once or twice a day, as required, into the garden.

Another plus? My polar south is grateful that I use less paper and more soft cloth. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Neither did I. The positives just keep stacking up.

I’m sure this seems like extreme ablutions, but the more I get into it, the more I like it. No-one visiting knows which bucket IT is. It’s clean and I respectfully don’t have a bucket of pee standing around when I have visitors.

The bottom line? If Mother Nature doesn’t unleash a bit of wrath on us in the near future, I’d be quite surprised. Best to offer some level of cooperation in the mean time, in desperate hope of appeasement.

So, don’t be the one with no reply when I ask you next time we meet: “What are you doing to save water?”

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