Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rewind – The things we take for granted - Water

Rainbow over Marigot Bay - Finola JC rights reserved

So, I decided I should look back through the over 200 posts I’ve written over on Sun, Rain, Or… and what better thing to do than borrow from Facebook with their somewhat endearing, somewhat annoying ‘Memories’ feature…so 5 years ago this week, I wrote: Survival after Disasters - Sustenance in Your Yard. This was after the Haiti Earthquake but before our own disastrous Hurricane Tomas.
The gist of that post was looking at the everyday plants we probably don’t know are food, or maybe use in one way, like eat the fruit, but don’t know the leaves make great tea to help relax, uplift, calm, cure, etc.
So I’d say it’s worth taking a look back over at that post if you don’t know much about plants, but read on also if you’d like a few tips on how to survive better in the drought we are told we should expect again this year, or if you’re not in Saint Lucia, read on anyway – a lot of it is just good conservation practice anyway :)

The stuff of life. Our most precious resource but simultaneously, one we waste like it goin’ outta style! (West Indian expression of my youth – ‘back in the day’ J

Some simple tips to save water that you maybe haven’t thought of

Showering – do you let your taps run while you wait for the hot water to start? Catch it! Last year when my plants were dying in droves, I bought a 1-gallon bucket and put it under my taps as I mixed up my perfect temperature water to take my shower – I was amazed at how much I’d been pouring down the drain! If I was not paying attention, the bucket would easily fill ¾ and sometimes full. Now it fills just about half way.
This water is totally clean! I give it to the dogs to drink and I use it to water plants. Since it is collected daily it is enough to do many things with and you use it daily so it won’t be a breeding ground for mozzies!

Toilet – ok, so you may not want to do this, but give it a try – If it’s yellow, let it mellow – don’t flush every time you tek a pee! At least let it mellow for a few uses and then flush – if you are in a household you can set a guide – once someone sees evidence of too yellow water or a wad of toilet paper..flush after use J C’mon, it’s just pee and the only thing you have to fear is the scent of ammonia getting too much – then flush once it reaches close to that.

Alternative toilet therapy: Fill a bottle with sand or with water and carefully place it in the toilet tank – use two small ones or one large but they must not float. These will displace water in your tank and yep, your toilet will still flush perfectly well but use a litre or two less each time.

Dish water – well, don’t use very soapy water to water your plants – they tend not to take kindly too it. Do empty out your basin of soapy dirty water and then rinse your soapy dishes into it – this water is not too bad but can still ‘burn’ your plants. There’s instructions for a DIY ‘Gray Water’ filter here, but I am thinking – need a water expert to give their opinion on this though, I’ve asked a friend but until then, my thoughts are:

Buy some activated charcoal (from Eastern Timbers in Saint Lucia – check in the supermarkets for it) and make a simple filter. Buy/get a 5 gallon bucket – recycled from the supermarket or paint buckets, cut a square of mosquito mesh and secure it over the top by tying a strong elastic / rubber under one of the ridges around the rim. Let it dip about 6 inches and place your charcoal in the dip: Wrap the charcoal tightly  in a piece of looseweave cotton or cloth so it stays put and forms a tight mass. Pour your water through this, repeat a few times – I’d think the water should be clean enough to use on your plants now…

Or Go Green! There is of course, another alternative – I used to make handmade soap, and have recently switched to a very plan, unscented soap as I get more sensitive in my ‘ahem’ ‘old age’ ;) so, why not wash your dishes with plain simple handmade soap? NOT ‘blue soap’ West Indians, not bluesoap ok? That has artificial fragrance, chelating chemicals and ultramarine blue pigment…none of these may be super bad on their own, but it’s NOT a natural soap. But get a fully saponified (no excess oils) soap with some lemon/lime or other citrus essential oils and it should be great for washing dishes – rub on sponge, clean off grime and grease J

The phosphates in dish soap and detergents may seem fine for plants as they are fertilizers, but they are NOT organic and ARE environmental problem causers. Plus most detergents have other chemicals that are not good for plants.

I've linked below to a page with info about natural alternatives for dish soaps and detergents – I suspect we don’t get them in the Paradise Islands…but if we ask for them, maybe we will eventually.

Check out the links for more info on some of the things I mentioned:

Rainbow moon - My Mum used to say it's a sign of rain FJC rights reserved

Do you have any tips you can share for water conservation? Please drop them in the comments below! Thanks for reading :)