Saving as much water as possible should be our top priority during the water crisis we are currently experiencing in Cape Town. But let us not create more problems while trying to solve another.
Here are a few ways your water saving tactics might have a negative impact on your health, safety, and the planet.
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Keeping hydrated is the most important thing. If you are trying to cut your water usage by not drinking water, you might be putting yourself at risk for dehydration. Make sure you drink 2 liters of water or more if you are active, an athlete, or outside in the heat for prolonged periods of time. There are alternatives to quench your thirst if you have already met you 2 liter quota of water, but they are not all created equal when it comes to health and hydration. Stay away from fizzy drinks that are generally loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and flavours that are bad for your health. Rather opt for spring water, freshly squeezed or cold-pressed juices, and coconut water or electrolyte drinks.
You might be using disposable cups, plates, and cutlery in an effort to save water by reducing your need to wash dishes. This could have a negative effect on the planet as landfills pile high. Make sure that you are using recyclable products and that you recycle your items properly. Also, make sure that if you are buying/refilling bottled water that you use a reusable container to re-fill instead of buying or using plastic bottles that contain BPA.
Using gray water in your gardens long term in an effort to keep your plants alive might have a negative effect on the soil if the products you use (Shampoo/dish soap/cleaning products) have toxic ingredients and are not biodegradable and environmentally friendly. There is also a possibility that these toxins might make it’s way to and contaminate shallow groundwater or nearby streams, etc. Make sure that you are treating your gray water properly if you are going to be using it on your plants or outside.
In an effort to spare as many drops as possible you might be slacking on your general hygiene, like skipping showers or not washing your hands as regularly. Germs can spread quickly and if you do not maintain hygiene you could put yourself at risk of picking up a germ that could make you ill. A solution would be to always carry around a travel size waterless hand sanitizer. Use especially before eating, preparing meals, after using the toilet, or if you are sick. The same goes for brushing your teeth. Brush at least twice a day to prevent plaque build-up and cavities that could lead to big dentist bills in the future.
More and more people are looking to install borehole systems on their property in order for them to not be dependant on municipal water and live normally without restriction. But as numbers of borehole users climb the groundwater might become depleted faster than it can be replenished and could have major impacts on the environment that we might not be prepared for. Some of the negative effects of groundwater depletion include the lowering of the water table, reduction of water in streams and lakes, deterioration of water quality, increased pumping costs, land subsidence and even earthquakes.
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