Earth Hour Challenge: Easy ways to halve your water usage

In Climate Change
© Chris Martin Bahr / WWF

Even as scarcity drives up water prices here, we are losing islands in the Pacific to rising water levels. With Earth Hour coming up, we challenged Wee Leng (who writes at earthleng.com) to find easy ways that ordinary Singaporeans can reduce our daily water usage.

This Earth Hour, tell us what you will be doing for the environment and buddy up for change at earthhourbuddies.com


As someone that has previously written about the water situation in Singapore, I am convinced that not only is water a scarce resource, it is precious – especially here.

I previously thought of adopting water-saving habits but my preference for cleanliness killed any thought of a lifestyle change then. So when WWF approached me to take up this water challenge for Earth Hour, I figured that it’s time to walk my talk about water!

So here it is: Five easy ways to reduce water wastage and my verdict on the measures!

1. Run your taps at half speed

Turning on the tap up to the halfway mark immediately halves the water flow and the amount used. This can be applied to any activity, from brushing your teeth to washing vegetables. As less water was used, I could turn down the heater and actually ended up using less energy for heating!

Ease of adoption: 4/5

Verdict: I definitely enjoy having strong jets of running water and habitually turn the full tap on. But I have made a conscious effort to turn it down and am starting to appreciate a steady flow. 

2. Rinse from a mug

Forget about running water at half tap. You can further limit your water usage by using a mug when rinsing your mouth!

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Ease of adoption: 3/5

Verdict: It still takes a bit of getting used to. I tried washing the foam off my mouth with a mug but inevitably need to supplement the act with some tap water. I’m hoping it gets better throughout the week…

3. Turn off when soaping up

Turn on the shower only when necessary, and you can enjoy your shower for as long as you like! Take your time to massage your head while shampooing. Give your body a good scrub down. All while doing your part for the planet.

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Ease of adoption: 5/5

Verdict: Thankfully, I’ve never had the habit of keeping my shower running while soaping up. But even that bit of consciousness in the bathroom made a huge difference. If I had kept my shower running the whole time, I would have used twice the usual amount of water!

4. Flush at half, check for ticks!

We use about 3.5 to 4.5 litres of water per flush, four times the amount released from our deed! This is why PUB has introduced “water ticks”. Not that our water will make you itch, but there are marks to denote the water efficiency of our appliances. Going to the toilet five times a day would mean 20 litres of water used. We can easily save 10 litres a day just by half-flushing!

Ease of adoption: 5/5

Verdict: My half-flush button at home doesn’t work and I simply moderated how hard I pressed the flush button – it worked just fine!

5. Reuse creatively

Water from washing rice, fruits and vegetables is generally clean and can be reused for other purposes such as watering plants. Each wash uses about 2.5 litres of water, which adequately waters my plants at home. Rice water also happens to be really nutritious so your plants will grow to be strong and healthy, too!

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Ease of adoption: 5/5

Verdict: I came up with other possibilities to reuse water. Bath water could be a good rinse for cars, too, since shampoo is said to give them a good shine! So, challenge your creative mind today!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

When I applied these five simple tweaks to my daily routine, from bathing to brushing teeth to watering my plants, I was able to save 60 litres of water in just one day, 40% the amount of water used by an average person in Singapore everyday! This means if every person in Singapore follows these steps, we save enough to enjoy ten days of free water each month! 

I had thought that the biggest challenge would be getting used to a weaker water flow. Surprisingly, I was still (if not better) able to get clean from a less powerful jet. Then, I realised that the challenge is not in adopting these measures, but in getting rid of my bad habits. 

As a Singaporean and greenie at heart, nothing satisfies me more than knowing that I am not just making a difference to the environment, my wallet will thank me too


Written by Tay Wee Leng

Wee Leng writes about environmental issues and social causes on earthleng.com. You may also follow ourearthleng on Facebook and Instagram for updates on her week-long personal challenge!

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