Last week I accepted a challenge from the team at Armani Acqua For Life to go through an entire day with only 10 litres of water. If that doesn’t sound too hectic to you, it didn’t to me either – which is why I agreed.
On Monday night I lay in approximately 100 litres of foamy water and planned out the next day. I factored in drinking, cooking, cleaning myself – you know, the important things. This was also roundabout the time I realised I’m probably in trouble.
Full disclosure: I failed this challenge before I even started by absent-mindedly flushing the toilet when I stumbled into the bathroom at 7AM. One flush takes around 10 litres, so technically I had already used my day’s allocation. I decided to power on though, and my water consumption went a little something like this:
My morning ‘shower’ was me standing in the bath, lathering up and then rinsing off with cupfuls of water. This is not the most fun I’ve ever had, but a friend who has lived in rural Mozambique told me that was the best way he found to wash himself with limited water, and I think he’s right. I did feel pretty clean afterwards considering I had only used about 1.5l. I then managed to brush my teeth, wash my face and drink a glass of water with another litre.
I ignored toilet flushing during the day – I live alone so I could deal with it – but I was surprised at how much water went to hand washing, even if you use a cup to rinse. I definitely could have used waterless hand sanitiser, but I figured that if there isn’t water in an area, hand sanitiser would be a luxury the locals won’t have access to either so I skipped it.
Around here the first world problems started kicking in. Couldn’t switch on the humidifier because it takes 2 litres of water. Skipped the air purifier because that takes almost a litre as well. Ignored the cat’s face when she questioned my authority because I didn’t open the bathroom tap for her to drink from. Wanted to do a load of washing but couldn’t. And measuring out every bit of water you want to use isn’t fun.
My project went to shreds at around 4PM when I wanted to wash the dishes from the previous night that I had not-so-thoughtfully left for myself. I had about 2 litres left and I couldn’t manage much with that except for rinsing the glasses and cutlery. I left the plates to soak a little and when I returned a few minutes later I realised that my water had drained out. That was it – aside from another litre of drinking water I had exhausted my supply. I gave up, filled the basin with warm soapy water and flushed the toilet with my next wee. I also washed my hands for way longer than I needed to. I then met a friend for a couple of glasses of wine, where I also drank a litre of sparkling water and flushed the toilet multiple times. There. It’s out in the open now.
I may have failed miserably at the challenge, but when I calculated the next day I figured I had still used way below half the average person’s daily consumption – which is calculated at 240 litres and up. I learnt that I can definitely save more water – flushing the toilet with every second use (20 – 30l saved), filling up the cat’s water bowl with my leftover water (I’m basically the little girl in the movie Signs that leaves half full glasses of water everywhere), only doing laundry if I have a full load and generally just considering my options before I open a tap.
Wondering where Armani and Acqua For Life fits into all of this? Together with the Green Cross International they’ve provided 880 million litres of clean water to 108 communities in 8 countries over the past six years. They install water points, rain water collection, toilets, filtering systems etc – this means that women don’t have to walk kilometres to fetch water. Aside from drinking water, basic cooking and sanitation being seen to, the crops and livestock can be cared for and children attend school more regularly.
Want to know more or get involved? Visit the Acqua For Life website here. If you want to see how our day went in more detail (there were a bunch of other people who did it too), search for the hashtag #1DayOn10Liters on FB, Twitter and Instagram.