To be honest, I was a little worried before our recent trip to Cape Town about the water restrictions there and how it may impact our holidays. This is especially after reading all these news articles in the South African and and international media which seems to have sensationalized the situation in Cape Town.
Being in a drought, we had expected Cape Town to be completely dry and yellow with very little greenery. However, this is not true. Many of the indigenous plants are in many shades of green as it was explained to us that they are acclimatized to Cape Town’s windy dry climate. Other than grass or lawns that are obviously struggling without rain, the city itself does not look as parched as expected.
Without dismissing the fact that there is a serious drought in the region and that it is a grave issue for the city, for visitors like ourselves, we found that with a bit more common sense, open-mindedness and a little change in habits, it is actually quite manageable.
- Many of the airport and public toilets offer hand sanitizers from dispensers rather than running water at the washing basins. There are large signs showing their commitment to saving water during these critical times. So instead, we used our own baby wet wipes to wipe our hands, and then used the hand sanitizers provided.
- Many restaurants must have tampered with or changed their taps so the force of the water coming out is controlled, less forceful, or in drips or thin sprays. This is actually an ingenious idea to ensure water usage is managed as much as possible.
- We read and saw many signs with the following words:
“If its yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down“
This simple act of refraining from flushing the toilet each time we pee may sound unsanitary, but it is an effective way to conserve water given on average, toilets use around 6L of water in each flush. For some, it may require more tolerance and open-mindedness to this idea, but we embraced it as a family when we were staying at our Airbnb house, or when we were taking the boys to public toilets where we would flush all together just once.
- As it is summer time, quick 2-minute showers were not a problem. At our Airbnb house, we would shower in the bathtub with it plugged, so the soapy water can be reused as “grey water” for things like washing the floors or cleaning.
- We only turned on the dishwasher when it was completely full.
- Same for the washing machine – we made sure to turn it on only for a full load. The one we had at our Airbnb was great as it had the function of sensing the load and water volume needed for the washing cycle.
- The balcony and deck were a little dirty as occupants are not permitted to hose them down (we were told neighbours do tell on each other!). So we just made sure we wore shoes when heading out of the house.
- In order to save water, many restaurants did not give out jugs of water for the table. Instead, they would refill empty glasses to save every drop! Anyways, the wines are so good in Cape Town, who needs to drink water!
All in all, in the 10 days that we were in Cape Town, we learnt the many ways in which we can all be water wise. The way the city’s inhabitants have responded and all come together with such commitment to water conservation is to be commended! Let’s pray that the rains do come in the upcoming rain season!
Fresh water is one of the most important resources for our human survival!! We have realized how much we take water for granted. Now that we are back home, we are going to put some of these water conservation methods to practice ourselves!!