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Day Zero is a reality

Day Zero is almost here and, like the majority of Capetonians, I am shitting myself. However, there are others that, well, don’t seem all too bothered, which is probably what is stressing me out even more. Fuck guys.

Schools and businesses will have to shut down if we have no water. There are farmers without crops and livestock need water to survive. Animal shelters are suffering, sewage pipes and systems are already getting blocked and we all need to pay attention to our water consumption right now in order to prolong the life of the water we have right now. 

Coming from Botswana, a country that is plagued by drought regularly and for decades at a time, I did not think I would be this worried. But I am. I really am.

If you have not already started to save as much water as possible from going down the plug hole, I am begging you to start now. It’s never too late and every drop counts. So please, start saving every dribble from now on.

To help you save every drop, I have put together a list of some of my water saving tips that Jeanne and I live by every day, as well as some ways you can prep for Day Zero because, let’s face it, unless the heavens open up over the dam,  Day Zero is going to happen.

It’s going to freaking happen. I cannot believe it. *tries to stop hyperventilating*

My tips for saving water at home (I am sure you have heard most of them, but still):

  • If you want to shower, stand in or close to a bucket. The bucket will catch the majority of the grey water that otherwise would go down the drain. If you would prefer to measure out a few litres and bath in the bucket, that also works.
  • When showing, open the tap to wet yourself, shut off the tap while you soap up your body or wash your hair and then put it back on to rinse off. Quick-sticks. Again, do this inside or near a bucket to catch as much grey water as possible. Please. 
  • The grey water caught from your showers then can be used to flush your loos. So turn off those toilet taps at the wall, guys.
  • When it comes to dishes, do one load a week in one sink of water if you can. That water can be used to water your garden (if you still have one or anything green at all because, well, we don’t).
  • Laundry is a nightmare when it comes to water consumption. I hate turning on the washing machine and ours is a new model that uses half the amount of water old ones do! If you can, use some of the grey water left over from showers to help fill the washing machine. If not (we don’t produce enough grey water between us to flush toilets and use for laundry), try and do as few loads as possible. Wear your jeans more than once (same goes for things like bras, for example), and prolong the life of your sheets if you can. Every load not done, counts. The water that comes out of your washing machine, again, can be caught, stored, and used to flush toilets.
  • When brushing your teeth, rather pour a small amount of water in a cup and use it to wet and rinse your brush instead of running the tap. If you do have to run the tap, place another tub in the sink to catch the grey water.

Additional tips:

  • Instead of flushing your toilet paper down the loo, place a bin next to the toilet where toilet paper used for number 1’s can be placed. The odors from this bin can be lessened by using a little bicarb or spraying it with some vinegar. P.S. This will also stop pipes from getting blocked.
  • Ladies, we can prolong the wear of our knickers by wearing panty liners. Yes, it has come to this.
  • Use vinegar to wipe down counters instead of running a tap for water.
  • Stock up on cheap alternatives to wear. Whether it be underwear, socks and/or sleepwear.

How to prep for day zero:

There are a number of ways we can all prep for Day Zero that doesn’t include panic buying and absolute chaos. Some of those ways include:

  • Stocking up on bottled water for drinking only.
  • Investing in biodegradable paper plates and paper cups.
  • Buying or mixing your own odour eliminator to spray clothes and increase the time between doing washing. You can make your own by mixing water, bicarb and fabric softener together in a spray bottle.
  • Investing in a flush alternative or toilet neutraliser like Albex. Or going the composting route.
  • Stocking up non-perishable foods. Most of these will be canned because many dried non-perishable foods have to be cooked in water.
  • Buying a few bottles of sterilising fluid or tablets. For example: Milton. This can be used to get rid of germs, odours and bacteria on just about anything – including any fresh produce you purchase.
  • If you are prone to an upset stomach, it would be wise to buy medication that you would need for cramps, dehydration and diarrhoea. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Investing in a barrel or large container where you can store and access your grey water easily. A closed container will also keep the mosquitos and other bugs away from it.

Tip for those visiting Cape Town

These tips and tricks do not only apply to Capetonians. Friends and family from afar, please use them while you’re here visiting, we would appreciate it greatly. Equally, if you are unsure of anything, just ask. You can stop someone on the street, ask at the front desk of your hotel or even do a couple of Google searches, all of which will be able to inform you about what is going on with the drought in the Mother City. 

If you are coming from another province or a place nearby that has a good water supply and you can, bring your own water. My sister-in-law, mother-in-law and neice will be visiting in Febuary, and they will all be bringing litres and litres of water in their car. Of course, this is not possible for those who are travelling from further away, which is understandable.

How to keep yourself fresh:

Keeping yourself feeling fresh on hot days (or days in between washing your hair) is important in order to feel like a freaking human being. Because, let’s face it, once there is no water in our taps and we start feeling (and smelling) anything but fresh. And yeah, the last thing we are going to feel like is a human being. So, here’s how you can, ya’know, feel human and all:

  • Dry shampoo your hair for the days in between wash days. Stock up on that Batiste!
  • Baby wipes (way more gentle on your skin than fragranced ones that contain alcohol) to help you stay fresh. You can rub down your skin when feeling sweaty, etc.
  • Hand sanitizer to use when you would normally wash your hands. Every. Drop. Counts. 
  • Face wipes or Micellar Oil in Water to take off make up when you would normally use facial soap or an alternative.
  • Face and hand creams (because the wipes can be harsh on your skin and you need to keep it hydrated)
  • Feminine wipes that you can use and place in sanitary bins when you use the bathroom, these will help you stay fresh, germ-free and they can be thrown away instead of flushed.

Other stuff

Jeanne and I have been thinking about buying a Water to Air machine as a last resort to secure a water source every day. However, I spoke to someone who said that it will take them 5 years to regain the R25 000 (approx) they spent on it. And being who I am, I am so resistant to buy one. It’s so much money. So, so much money. 

Urgh, this whole situation makes me feel sick to my stomach with worry. I am worrying so much that I woke up sleep-choking last night and, well, that has not happened in almost 6 months.

After Maimane took control and made a statement regarding his plan to tackle to water crisis, I am hoping that the people of Cape Town and the Government can now work together to prevent Day Zero and make it to the rainy season.

In all honestly, I have come to realise that there is no use in pointing fingers. It’s too late, and we have to try our best to fix/help the situation we are in. This drought is going to have a huge impact on so many people, animals, businesses and so much/many more. The worry, panic and anxiety is just as real as the drought and Day Zero, and we need to pull together like we all know we can, and do as much as we can.

If we do as much as we can, at least there is a chance we could make it to the rainy season without having the taps run dry.

I have never wanted winter and the rainy season this bad. Common Cape Town, we can make it! We really can…

Do you have any other water saving tips to share with me? Or hygiene tips. Or tips in general, really. Please leave them in the comment section below. 

Image credits: Pixabay

Note: Most of these feature on a list doing the rounds on Facebook, although I cannot find the original poster as it gets added to and reshared. I have just added to them. 

Related: 

Other blog posts tackling the drought and Day Zero, including some helpful tips:

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