14 AUGUST, 2022
dripping tap


Part 1 - Water


It sounds an impossible task, a small boat rowing against the mighty tide. But it can be done, there is even a word for it in Old Shetlandic, so, against what, at times feels like the overwhelming odds of global warming, this is the first in a series of practical ‘how to’ blogs – re-empowering you to do your small bit for yourself,  mankind and the planet. In this post we tackle how you can save water as most of England enters into a hosepipe ban.




Inside the womb we swam in amniotic liquid, outside our first meal is fluid based. We drink, bathe and swim in it. Plants and animals can’t live without it and when there is a shortage the environment becomes stressed, plants die, rivers dry up and wildlife struggles. 


Today for large parts of England affecting 30 million people an official drought was declared, a bit academic as it was as dry yesterday as it will be tomorrow, but it allows the Environment Agency to have increased powers in order to help farmers and endangered environments such as chalk streams. 

The above is driven by government and water boards. Government polices look at the long term, they plan how we are going to be more effective in saving the water that does fall, repairing pipes, preventing floods – they put hosepipe bans in place. But all of the above is out of our hands. 


We need to be empowered; we need to feel that we are doing something however little. That was the motivation behind An’du - to make a difference, as small differences done millions of times makes big changes. 


So below are some motivational thoughts around water conservation.


You don’t need to wait for government to legislate, or to put in a hosepipe ban – just start today - you are not alone. 


The average person in the UK uses around 142 litres of water a day.


Ironically that water use goes up during dry periods, gardens are watered, paddling pools filled, showers increased, leading to a vicious circle further depleting our rivers, streams and reservoirs.


Here are 7 simple ideas - choose one or choose them all, the choice is yours!


1.     Shower for less time, the average shower lasts for 7 mins, and for every minute you are under the shower head (obviously depending on how powerful your shower head is) around 10 litres of water drains away. So, if we shower in the morning - that’s us used 70 litres before we have even started the day.  Half your shower time.

2.     Install a water butt - during dry weather 100s of litres can be used to revive wilting plants. Most plants prefer rainwater anyway as it contains extra nutrients not found in tap water. Even so, most water butts have run dry by now. Maybe consider planting drought tolerant plants is the way to go, look to the Mediterranean and see what thrives there as a starting point. Beautiful smelling lavender and thyme.  But be careful, check that they can tolerate some frost too as you don’t want to lose them all in the winter. For garden lovers who enjoy gardening books - Beth Chatto’s book ‘The Dry Garden’ might be a good one to get out of the library for some inspiration. 

3.     Don’t wash your car, but if you do, then use a bucket which on average holds 30 litres rather than rinsing with a hose which uses 15 litres per minute. 

4.     In the kitchen, wash your fruit and vegetables in a bowl rather than under the running tap, save the water for the garden. I save all my water that I use for steaming vege, once cooled it also goes on the garden, a double win as any nutrients lost from the vegetables go into the water then back on the garden.  

5.     When brushing your teeth don’t let the tap run, turn it off until you are ready to rinse. 

6.     If you are one of those houses whose bathrooms and kitchens are a long way from the boiler, when running the water to get it hot, collect the run-off, put it in the kettle or splash it over your house plants. We can absentmindedly lose litres down the drain before the hot water arrives. 

7.     Finally, think about products that contain water. Many beauty and cleansing products start with the word aqua - that’s water to you and me. Water is a cheap easy way for producers to bulk up their products and in many instances not needed. If you use a shampoo bar you can just add the water in the shower instead of transporting it all the way around Britain from the factory to the shop then home, only to wash it down the drain. Most liquid shampoos are over 80% water. 


 So even if you did just half of the things above - doing a quick back of the envelope calculation, there are approximately 67 million people in the UK, if we all reduced our water use by one quarter (i.e saved 35.5 litres per day) then as a country we would save 2,378.5 million litres of water a day - that is a lot of water without too much stress. 


There is hope too – in Denmark there have been big campaigns raising awareness about water use and it’s worked. The average person in Denmark only consumes 104 litres a day as opposed to us in the UK using a whopping 142 litres a day.


So as most of England moves into another hosepipe ban and we face more record-breaking heat waves, don’t wait for governments to act first. If you want to feel empowered in the face of what can feel like a very disempowering situation, join our An’du movement and start your own gentle row against the tide. 

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