Cape Town might be the poster child of the water crisis right now, but SA is generally considered a water-scarce country. Here are some workable ideas to help you reduce your water consumption.
Tapoff and show off
If Facebook updates are anything to go by, Capetonians seem to be getting quite competitive about how little water they use. The Tapoff app — available free to iOS and Android users — takes this to the next level, ranking anonymised users on a city-wide leaderboard.
To do so, get your usage info from your City of Cape Town bill, and enter it to see where you stand. Usage is shown in litres per person per day.
More interesting though is the simple, clear opening screen of the app which provides a countdown to the estimated Day Zero (108 days at time of writing), current dam levels (24%), recent rainfall information, and the city’s current daily usage info.
Android users might also be interested in "That Dam App" which provides updated water levels for major dams in SA, Lesotho, and Swaziland by region.
Reinventing shower gel
Back in 2011, local entrepreneur Ludwick Marishane invented DryBath — a gel that gets you clean and fresh without a drop of water. The invention netted him the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award, along with other accolades and media attention, but the product never took off locally. Instead it found its niche with American and European outdoor enthusiasts and busy moms. Seven years later, DryBath might get the local attention it deserves. Marishane’s website (headboy.org/drybath/) sells Drybath directly, and he is crowdsourcing a big stock-replenishing campaign on Thundafund.com, aimed at creating a local buyer base so he can price the product efficiently for SA consumers.
Keep it short
When you do shower, you’ll have to keep it short. Navigating to 2minuteshowersongs.com will direct you to an album of two-minute songs by local artists including MiCasa, Jimmy Nevis and the Springbok Nude Girls. Listen for free on the site or download the album for R69.99 from iTunes and Google Play.
A Boa Water Pebble is another option. It monitors water flow and changes colour to indicate when you should switch off — but it’s a bit more generous than Cape Town requires right now, with a cycle of about four minutes depending on water pressure. Get it for R225 from faithful-to-nature.co.za/boa-water-pebble.
Washing machines — even the eco-rated ones — make up a large part of the typical suburban weekly water footprint. The first step in reducing this is washing a lot less often, and washing only what really needs it. From there, you can reduce your water consumption even further with an electric camping washing machine, though these are in huge demand (and pretty
expensive) so good luck finding one. Sustainable.co.za is offering the decidedly retro, hand-powered "Sputnik" Wonder Wash machine — remember those 1990s ads? — for R650. It uses about 6l per 2kg wash. They’re currently taking "back orders" with a month-long lead time for fulfilment.