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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

All that glitters is not gold.

After a couple of scorching weeks, Hannah Bullivant looks at the hosepipe ban, our reliance on water, and the impending water crisis.

Written by Hannah Bullivant

Water Natasha-Thompson-Water-Umbrella-Editorial
Illustration by Natasha Thompson

It’s been sticky, pills unhealthy hasn’t it? The sunshine is all well and good whilst you are within spitting distance of a garden or beer garden (or a patch of pavement if you frequent the majority of London pubs), but battling with public transport, with people so far in your space that they may as well be inside you is no party. Some trains still seem to have the heating on and we are incessantly reminded to consider carrying a bottle of water with us which, curiously, makes me want to punch the drivers face in. Moving in any way other than a slow glide is ghastly in the heat. As one friend put it yesterday, ‘its like moving through hummus’.

Water Fritha Strickland
Illustration by Fritha Strickland

Where is this tirade taking us, you wonder? It is taking us to water. Or rather the lack of it. We have all seen the images of people in faraway countries using buckets to scoop putrid, fly-ridden water into canisters to use as drinking and cooking water. But the reality is that these images have become so pervasive in our consciousness that they simply cease to shock us. What’s that got to do with us? Whilst we are nowhere near the poverty of many countries with minimal access to safe drinking water, as the population rises and industrialisation increases, water will become more and more precious in all parts of the world.

WaterNatasha-Thompson-Water-Bath-Editorial
Illustration by Natasha Thompson

The northern, ironically much wetter, half of the country was aghast last month when the prospect of a hosepipe ban was floated before them. The rule only legislates against the equipment and not the water use, i.e. you could still tip the same amount of water over your garden, as long as you are not using the pipe. Oh, and it’s still ok to top up your swimming pool and wash the caravan. That repeated banging sound is my head hitting the table.

Water Kerry Lemon
Illustration by Kerry Lemon

With our once or even twice daily showering, long, luxurious bath’s, dishwashers, washing machines and hosepipes; We are a nation addicted to water. The government estimates that we each use about 150 litres of water a day, and rising. And right now? We couldn’t imagine our hot, hummusy lives without easy access to a glass of cold water and a cool shower. It’s a human right, right? The reality is that water is a finite resource. The days of using it with merry abandon are coming to an end, and we need to stop wasting it.

Water Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Illustration by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

There are some glaring absurdities in our liberal water use. Whilst almost a billion people on the planet only have access to dirty, unsafe water, we flush our toilets with drinking water. This is bonkers. Most of our homes are un-metered too, meaning water is charged at a set rate. This means there is no financial incentive to reduce water use. Ofwat stats show that metered homes use much less water and save tons of money. (So, water powers that be, and Mr Cameron, please change that.)

Water Michelle Urvall Nyrén
Illustration by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Over the past year I have been trying to do my bit to save water, but I would also be very interested to hear your suggestions too, if you have them.

• Buy a non plastic bottle and refill it before you leave the house.
• If you have a garden, consider putting a water butt somewhere to collect water.
• If you own your house, would you consider harvesting rainwater (or greywater) to water your plants and flush your loo? Do you already do this?
• You don’t always need to flush after you wee. You probably saw this coming a mile off, but, all together now…if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if its brown, flush it down!
• Save any unfinished water dregs and pour them into a watering can or jug near the sink. Next time you need to water the plants you won’t have to fill the jug up as much.
• Instead of running the tap for ages to get cold water, put water straight out of the tap and into big bottles in the fridge.
• If you don’t have a double flush toilet you can get free water bags from Thames Water that fill up and save tons of water. Or you can just stick an old brick into the cistern.

So what’s your take on it? Are you a twice-daily-showerer, or a proud twice-a-weeker? Do you think it’s all pointless unless the government and authorities make changes? Do you already try to preserve water, and, if so, how? Couldn’t give two hoots, or are you a ‘be the change’ kinda person?

P.S. To learn more see Treehugger’s list of the top 5 documentaries to watch to understand the water crisis

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7 Responses to “All that glitters is not gold.”

  1. Lisa-Marie says:

    I already don’t flush after I wee. The loo is flushed only when someone has had a number two. i use water I’ve used for say, boiling potatoes in again in soup or for stock, and husband and I have 2 water bottles each for filling up.

    Interestingly, we don’t have a water charge in Scotland. We don’t pay for it at all, though we do pay a sewerage charge (which I am all for).Also Water is piped from the reservoir near my hometown to London.

    I love the illustrations in this one!!

  2. Jane Walker says:

    Amelia suggested I remake these comments here rather than on facebook…

    Good article and I agree with much of this. After exhausting all the alternatives I will still water my little container garden though (two watering cans required) because what is the point of growing our own food if we end up letting it all die and going to tescos? If we shower and launder less we can use water for growing food.
    ’bout 20 turn o’ yer hourglass ago · Arr! · 1 pirate
    ·

    Jane Walker I think it would be great if Hannah would write about ways of saving water for gardens.. you know, rainwater collection and channelling rainwater to plants etc.. its a great subject .. we all need to be motivated into this.. .when it rains it rains!

  3. Jane Walker says:

    Trying again.. Amelia suggested I remake these comments here rather than on facebook…

    Good article and I agree with much of this. After exhausting all the alternatives I will still water my little container garden though (two watering cans required) because what is the point of growing our own food if we end up letting it all die and going to tescos? If we shower and launder less we can use water for growing food.
    ’bout 20 turn o’ yer hourglass ago · Arr! · 1 pirate
    ·

    Jane Walker I think it would be great if Hannah would write about ways of saving water for gardens.. you know, rainwater collection and channelling rainwater to plants etc.. its a great subject .. we all need to be motivated into this.. .when it rains it rains!

  4. Jane Walker says:

    sorry about the pirate stuff – ignore -its my facebook set up

  5. Amelia says:

    haha, I love your pirate-ness!

  6. HannahB says:

    haha- those comments made me laugh!

    Totally agree with the importance of rainwater harvesting. In our communal garden we have 2 water butts collecting rainwater, but it isnt enough to water the garden. One day, when i have my 100% self sufficient eco house (!) i want to submerge a huge tank under the garden to harvest rainwater. I would then want to use it to water the garden and flush the loos (if we dont have composting loo’s) If the rainwater can be filtered, it could also be used to wash dishes and clothes etc. Id also want to one day save bath, shower, washing machine water to use on the garden too- this would be totally do-able if the water wasnt contaminated with chemical residues from shampoo’s and shower gels, which is another reason why its good to use organic chemical free soaps etc. I get ridiculously excited about these sorts of things and could rant on all day! I’d love to talk to someone who already does this- the pro’s and cons, the expense etc. get in touch if you do! (Maybe I could interview for Amelias or something? )

  7. Annelies says:

    I love articles like this one! It’s always great to pick up new ideas on how to save water and how to recude your impact on the environment.

    We do some of the things HannahB mentions (and most of the things mentioned in this article) at home. We bought an old house and renovated it, and now we use rain water for the toilet, the washing machine and the taps in the garden. We use water from a natural underground reserve (not a very deep one, so it’s not drinking water) in the stables, for the horses to drink and to rinse their legs after riding. We also have double flush toilets etc. I’m proud of my parents for the renovation of the house, they did a good job with the water :)

    For those showers and luxurious baths you mentioned it’s easy to use soaps and shampoos that don’t pollute the water so much, e.g. ecover. It makes you feel less bad about those showers, too :)

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