“ Israel Mityabeshet”! “Israel is drying out”! This is the slogan for the Israeli Water Authority’s latest water conservation awareness raising campaign. The Water Authority’s campaign has succeeded with the nation as a whole cutting back water consumption by 18%. But despite the campaign and the traditional daily prayers for rain recited before G-d between Shmini Atzeret after the end of Sukkot (The Festival of Booths) in the Fall, until the day before the first day of Passover in the Spring, Israel along with the entire Middle Eastern region is now in the sixth year of the longest and most severe drought since the 1920’s.
In the past three years our household, along with households throughout Israel, has worked hard at conversing water and keeping our ever spiraling water bills down. We installed the water saving devices for faucets and shower heads that the Water Authority distributed throughout the country. But we didn’t stop there, we instituted a series of water conservation measures for our household.
Here is IsraeLightly’s list of 16 practical and easy to follow water conservation suggestions:
In the bathroom:
1. As already mentioned install the water conserving devices on all the faucets and shower heads. These devices not only conserve water they also increase water pressure allowing for the faucet to be opened at a lower level and still receive a powerful spray.
2. When brushing your teeth or shaving close the faucet! Brushing one’s teeth or shaving with an open faucet wastes an average of six liters. In a four-person household closing the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving saves a daily 24 liters of water.
3. Shower instead of taking a bath. Showering uses less water than a bath. Whenever possible, (honestly this one is easier in the summer time than in the winter time), soap up, shampoo, and shave your legs with the faucet closed. Turn on the water for rinsing.
4. Showering during the winter months includes waiting a few minutes for the water to run hot. Keep three clean 1.5 liter plastic bottles in the bathroom and depending upon how cold it is outside you will fill between two or three bottles before every shower. Then run this clean tap water through the water filter in the kitchen, use it for cooking, making coffee or as drinking water. Admittedly, it took our household a while to get used to the idea that the faucets in the bathroom are no different from the one in the kitchen and that the water from the shower is just as clean as the water from the kitchen faucet.
5. If your household includes small children or seniors who bathe then that tub full of water can be easily reused. Secondary use of a tub full is achieved as follows: first, transfer the bathwater to clean 4 liter size plastic containers, (laundry detergent or fabric softener containers are perfect for this). Then use the collected water for: watering your household plants, watering your garden, washing the floor, or flushing the toilet instead of using the toilet’s water tank. An additional, slightly more work intensive, use for the bathwater is to transfer it to your washing machine. We have learned that our American May Tag washing machine holds exactly the same amount of water as a bathtub full. The bonus here is that since the bathwater is already slightly soapy we can use a bit less detergent.
6. When running a load of laundry do be sure that you are running a full load and if your machine has a permanent press cycle avoid using it! The permanent press cycle uses an extra machine full of water as it runs a second rinse cycle. (Who needs the permanent press cycle anyway! We are like most Israelis, and we are already apologizing to the famous British stylists Trinny & Susannah, we don’t believe in ironing, we believe that wrinkles add character to our clothes! Yes, of course our household owns an iron, but, well, at the moment we don’t remember were we stored it!) But back to the topic at hand…water conservation!
7. Most Israeli homes have toilet flushing systems which include two different amounts of water. Use the 1/2 tank flush setting “if its yellow and you can not bring yourself to let it mellow and the full tank flush setting if its brown and you need to flush it down”! Overtime we have retrained ourselves not to use the toilet as a trash bin as well as abiding by the late 1970s New York city adage “If its yellow let it mellow”. Enough said, time to leave the bathroom!
In the kitchen:
8. Instead of soaking to defrost food, place your frozen foodstuffs in the refrigerator section for overnight defrosting.
9. Some recipes call for cold or hot water. Instead of running the tap to cold enough or hot enough keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator and use the electric kettle to heat water.
10. Upon returning from the market with fresh produce, have a specially designated tub (the type that fits into the sink) ready and rinse all produce in it. Keep the water for your houseplants, garden or for floor washing.
11. When steaming or boiling vegetables and pasta reuse the water either as stock for soup or for watering your plants.
12. If you have a dishwasher use it! But please make sure to run it only when it is full. If you need to wash dishes by hand then remember to wet them, close the faucet while soaping them up and turn it back on when you are ready to rinse everything.
In the rest of the house:
13. If you have an air conditioner or humidifier, set up a water collection system. Use the collected water to wash the floors, water the garden, or as extra water to flush the toilet.
14. If you have a fish tank when you change the water save all of it for the garden. Fish tank water contains extra nutrients which function as an excellent fertilizer.
15. It is possible to wash the car using just two buckets of water. One a soapy mix to wash the car and one clean water to rinse and then dry off the car. In the winter time instead of parking the car in a covered area park it in an open area and after a rain wipe down the car to clean it.
16. Finally, check pipes, including the “Dude Shemesh” (solar energy water tank), for leaks on a regular basis. In the winter time when temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius, it is sometimes necessary to leave a tap open over night to maintain a water flow so that the pipes don’t freeze up and burst. If you need to do this be sure to use the produce rinsing tub from number 9 above to catch the water and use it to rinse your fresh produce in.
IsraeLightly hopes that you will find these suggestions helpful and that you will send in some of your own. And, may it please G-d, to answer our prayers for heavy winter rains beginning next Fall!