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Water: The Great Connector

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AS I sit in my kitchen reading the newspaper, “Day Zero” catches my eye.

For months, we have been aware of the possibility of a water restriction, yet many of us would be unprepared if we really were to physically experience such a water shortage. Water connects us, regardless of race, culture, language or location. So we would love for you to join us in our journey toward sustainable water usage.

Please allow me to share some of our history: Our family was recently led to move from a farm in Potchefstroom to Jeffreys Bay. In Potch, we were independent of municipal services and electricity, and had abundant water.

The first few months on the farm, we lived in our 6x6 cabin with no bath, no toilet, and no running water indoors. We also had a minimum amount of solar electricity, which meant no power after hours. And it was during this time at the farm where we learned to treasure our resources.

I would like to share some of these ideas with you. Some may cost money, but most only cost effort and a lifestyle change. And together, I am convinced we can make a difference to our current situation.

Tip 1: Do not flush the toilet unless there are solids

In a restaurant, I once read, “If it’s yellow, just be mellow. If it’s brown, let it drown!”

A toilet flush can easily use between 6 and 13 litres at a time. That is a lot of drinking water being used to flush away sewage. Yes, I know urine can smell, and stain. A simple solution to this is to add some sodium bicarbonate to the water (about 15ml), or to add a drop of essential oil. Personally, from our off-grid living experience, I would add some Probac drain cleaner or toilet cleaner to activate biodegradation. But there are other options as well. Just do some research to see what works best for you.

When we were fresh on the farm, we had a composting toilet set-up. I still think this is a very good option in emergency situations, provided that correct hygiene protocols are followed. All we used was a large wooden crate with a hole cut out, the toilet seat with a tight lid on top, and a suitable container to catch everything up at the bottom. We used sawdust to cover, instead of flushing. This prevents a smell from attracting attention. Urine should preferably be re-routed. There are different options on doing this. I have heard urine is sterile and also is a good compost activator.

On the farm, we had plenty of space to empty the buckets, of which we had about 10 available, into a “humanure” heap far away from anyone.

In a year or two (significantly less if composting earthworms are added) this was completely transformed into a clean compost as fine as soil, with no evidence of the original smell.

Now, that’s a way to save!!

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