Due to a very generous donation from my mother in law we are currently in discussion with a plumber to get our bathroom sorted. This has flagged up a couple of interesting things to me. We are getting a new suite fitted and looking through the catalogue of various options, we reasonably quickly agreed that an eco suite with built in water saving features would be the best option. It has a shallower bath, but as only the kids use the bathtub, that shouldn’t really matter and the toilet uses only a third of the normal average amount of water to flush. Amazingly this suite wasn’t even expensive – to me this was a no brainer.
In fact it really made me wonder about the priorities we have in this country. If it is possible to make toilets that flush on minimal water and seemingly without causing a massive price hike, why are all new toilets not like that? How come that when looking through pages and pages of options for toilets and bathtubs, there was only this one if you wanted to reduce water usage? I am amazed – has the toilet producers not realised that water is another resource we need to be careful about. OK, as I have mentioned before water shortages are not really an issue in Scotland – we have plenty of the stuff and it keeps coming; but many other places have issues, including areas in England and I am sure that whoever sells toilets in Scotland also supplies in England, so water consumption should be a concern.
The plumber actually unknowingly confirmed that water saving is not a huge issue for him and probably his fellow workers. On one visit he said to me that he had noticed that we had chosen quite a plain suite, ‘if he could get us a different suite for the same price, would we be interested?’. I replied that ‘we had chosen the suite because of its water saving features, so unless he could source another one with those credentials, then no thanks’. His jaw almost hit the ground, and he looked as if he had seen a ghost – can it really be that I was the first of his customers to be concerned about water usage??? Just imagine what would have happened if I had asked for a grey water system to be installed…
Anyway it reminded me of some statistics I have come across lately, which I think are quite good to know:
97% of all the water on this planet is sea water and therefore difficult to turn into drinking water. 2% of fresh water is caught in the polar ice caps. That leaves just 1% for the Earths population to live from – that is not a lot for a growing population. (And here in the western world we use it to flush toilets!)
This again led me to think about the issue of drinking water and not least the amount of bottled water we use and the money we spend on it. There are ridiculous examples, such as the ’10 Thousand BC Water’, which is basically melted glacier ice, costing upto $45 for 750ml, or the nine times purified ‘Bling H2O’ costing $40-60 per bottle – complete with Swarowski crystals…
But even if you are drinking bottled water from a spring in Scotland you pay mad money: bottled water costs twice as much as petrol, three times as much as milk and 10.000 times more than tap water!
On top of the silly price we are paying for bottled water the environment is also paying a heavy price, in particular concerning all the plastic bottles used. According to a report from WWF from 2001 roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are used every year in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water. That’s a lot!
So where does all this leave me. For a starter it has emphasized that buying bottles of water is a complete waste and we really should stop that all together. Secondly it has reminded me that even if it doesn’t save me money directly I should get organised about collecting rainwater for use in the garden. Thirdly I have made a mental note to include a greywater system to the longterm priority list, it does make sense to reuse water for flushing toilets etc (and by the time I get organised hopefully the plumber will also have converted to a more water efficient attitude…)
Last but not least all this thinking about water has made me very thirsty, so I shall now go and get a glass and fill it with…juice. Cheers