So, I think I’ll have to consider today as a dry run (excuse the pun) for the rest of the week.
During the course of the day I’ve had a couple of realisations regarding the practicalities of this challenge:
– Firstly, being in an environment that is not my own (e.g. someone else’s house) makes it impossible to save and recycle my waste water, and requires me to be sanitary for the sake of others.
– Second, I need to have not only my collection bottles to hand for measuring my water, but other vessels too: for mixing hot and cold water, for storing waste water, for pouring water over myself… I’ll also need to leave bottles of water in the different places I would normally use water, i.e. the bathroom and the kitchen, to save me from either making endless trips up and down my steep, Victorian-era stairs, or making instinctive moves towards the tap.
– Third, am I really going to boil the kettle every time I go to the toilet in order to wash my hands with warm water? Probably not, so I face a week of washing my hands in cold water and hoping that the soap suds alone will be enough to wash away the germs.
And what do I do if, like today, I actually have water left over at the end of the day? According to my bottles, it appears that I’ve only used about 5 litres today. This is perhaps because I’ve not had a very ‘normal’ day.
I began the day at my friend’s house near Middlesborough where I’ve spent the weekend. I’d taken my five empty 2-litre bottles with me but, not knowing anyone else in the area, it was impractical to walk anywhere to fetch my water. Not a great start. I compromised by only filling two of them from her tap and walking to fill the other three when I got back to Sheffield. Of course, I did wash myself – but only the top half of my body. I did cook breakfast – but didn’t do the washing up because she has a dishwasher. Oh, and I’ve flushed the toilet three times… So actually if you add all that up, I must be well over my 10 litres.
To try and be as faithful as possible to my challenge, my housemates are now under instructions not to wash up for me or stack my dishes in the dishwasher. I will be drinking only water and drinks made with water such as squash and tea. And I will start saving up my waste water in a bucket so I can flush the toilet at the end of the day.
In the meantime I am left with the conundrum of what to do with my ‘leftover’ water. My manager – from whose house I am fetching my water each day – suggested keeping it on one side to be used if I’m running low later in the week. In some ways this feels like ‘cheating’ – after all, I am trying to use only 10 litres each day. So do I throw it away and start again with only ten litres tomorrow? It seems irresponsible to do so, given that there are women in the global South who regard their water as so precious that they will keep it in a locked room to enable them to distribute it fairly amongst their family. So another compromise: I’ll keep it for now but try not to use it. And who knows, if I do a clothes wash later in the week I will probably be very thankful.
About the author: From Sunday 22nd – Saturday 28th January Rachel Wood will be trying to live on 10 litres of water each day, which she will walk 1km to collect, in order to experience a little of what life is like for those who live in water poverty. Are you thirsting for change? Go to http://www.cafod.org.uk/thirst to see how you can take the water challenge or get involved with the campaign.