Katie and I have always been mindful of our impact on the environment, and since moving into our own house, we have been more committed than ever to cutting down our waste. We recycle as much as we can and (though we slip up sometimes) pay attention to the amount of packaging we buy when grocery shopping. When we no longer need or want something, as long as it’s in decent condition, we always donate it to an op-shop rather than throw it away. With our future food garden in mind, we started a compost heap the very day we moved in here and already the layers of food scraps and dead leaves are piling up. I’ve also been collecting our grass clippings and drying them out to use as mulch when the garden is up and running. I recently forgot to put the bin out and when it was collected the next week, after two weeks of our rubbish building up, our little bin was still less than half full. Considering all of this, I’ve always thought that we were pretty good at keeping our waste to a minimum. That was until a big plastic bucket opened my eyes to how much we really throw away.
It all started when I bought a giant 40L bucket to collect the excess water from our shower. When we moved into this house, after months of dry weather, the little garden was extremely parched. So I decided to start saving as much water as I could to supplement watering it. What I soon realised was just how much water we waste. That 40L bucket fills up surprisingly fast! Our washing machine uses approximately 77L per wash and the average shower (without a water saving showerhead) uses about 120L (though I know we use substantially less than that). At that rate, if Katie and I did two loads of washing each week and each had one shower a day, we’d use 1834L over the course of a week! That’s not even taking into account the water we use on stuff like washing our hands, flushing the toilet and doing the dishes. While I’m now saving as much of our waste water as I can and putting it to good use, giving our long neglected lawn, apple tree and hydrangeas a drink, I can’t help but feel a bit sad about wasting so much water over a period of (28) years.
There’s nothing to be done about past wastages, but to make up for it in some small way, I’ve challenged myself to using/wasting as little as possible from here on in. I’ve created a bit of a game of making showers into a race against the clock, and am now seriously considering hooking up a hose with a sprinkler to the washing machine (an idea I got from a co-worker). Using less water is not only good for the environment but it will save us money too!
Of course our water waste is just the tip of the iceberg. With our compost bin filling up fast, our recycling bin fuller than we’d like it, and our pile of grass clippings growing by the week, we are now able to see more clearly just how much we throw away. And though putting our scraps, rubbish and excess water to use is great, I know it would be better still to create less waste to begin with.
Who would have thought a humble plastic bucket could teach a guy so much?!