Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Thoughts about water


Thanks to USgal, the running water in the kitchen is now connected up to the waste pipes :

The other night (Saturday, I think), whilst eating a hearty vegetarian curry at a neighbour's, the topic of domestic water usage arose. Said neighbour does not have a cistern in her toilet or a waste water pipe in her kitchen.

Instead, as you can see from the photo below, the excess water that drains from the kitchen sink does so into a bucket directly underneath.

The bucket is then used as waste water in the toilet. Kitchen Sink Neighbour has a number of buckets in rotation. The biggest thing she has noticed is just how much water can be wasted in the kitchen and how much water is needed to flush the loo. It is something she is sure would go un-thought about if the conventional pipework was in place.

Without water bills, we're sure that households with the traditional plumbing don't get to realise how much water they flush away or throw out daily. Just physically witnessing it is eye opening. Even in these ecological times, there is no government advert warning people about their toilet use or educating them into conserving water in the home. We are flushing, boiling and unplugging away blindly.

The other day, we were discussing baths and whether we wanted a bath or shower installed. Would we return to our habits of a shower a day without thinking about it? Right now, a bucket of hot water from Kitchen Sink Neighbour and a scrubbing brush is all we rely on, a basic but efficient way to get the job done. You can see the dirt before your eyes and you boil the exact water you need, using it well, appreciating it as you cleanse away. That, or dropping by a friend who kindly lets you use their facilities.

How did the pre-hot water generation take their baths? A friend of mine told me that back in the 1940s, her father's family used to take their baths in the front room every Monday, boiling the water in kettles and bathing the entire family one at a time, maximising the resource. We weren't entirely sure how they decided who took first go at scrubbing clean -- was it decided by who was the dirtiest (with the cleanest going first) or by age? Either way, baths had to be planned.

Just like the candlelight reading sessions in the squat, such affairs were communal. Families united around a precious resource.

Spinning off from that, the talk of impending electricity has triggered new thought. If candlelight unites, then does electricity divide? After all, you can have electricity in each room, you can have it on without a glance or discussion as to who can use it or how much we need, whereas once a candle goes out, you have to replace it in order to continue your activities.

These resource-strapped situations do make you think about what you have and what you need. We wonder if those in their lit apartments with their ample electricity ever wonder about their electrical output in such detail.