I remember the time when we were looking for a house on rent in Leh during winters of 2021, The locals shared many winter related challenges and suggested that we don’t even think about spending our winters in Ladakh . They stated various problems like extreme temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius and that we won’t be able to live in that kind of cold, western toilet won’t work and we will have to use the dry compost toilet, veggies and fruits will be too expensive and also some of the basic stuff like milk, egg etc will be stock out from the market as Ladakh gets land locked during peak winters.
However, the problem that the locals spoke about the most was ‘water’. They said, it will be frozen and we will not get running water in the taps and hence we will have to walk for almost 100-150 m to FILL OUR OWN WATER and bring it home. This water will be used not only for drinking, but for everything. Apart from that we will also need to discard the water ourselves that we use for washing utensils and clothes. It might sound easy and very basic and that’s what we thought at the time of hearing it. However, when we started living and filling our own water, this is what we learnt.
1. Getting running water is a luxury – There are still many villages in India that don’t have piped running water supply. And if you don’t have to walk to the water source to bring water for your household, consider yourself blessed. (As per NITI Aayog, 82% rural household, 146 million homes in all, do not have piped running water).
2. Since Bathing took the maximum amount of water and electricity(to heat a bucket of water using an electric rod, it took 1.5 hours) we limited the frequency of taking baths to once a week or 10 days. In the absence of shower, we realised that if we one takes bath mindfully, it just takes not more than one bucket of water per person.
3. Compost toilets are our best friend – I agree that western toilets are damn comfortable to sit and enjoy your social media feeds, news or even type an important email. However, the healthiest and most efficient are Indian Toilets. They not only keep your posture in check but also promote a more efficient use of water. Firstly, they don’t have a flush system, instead you use soil to cover the heap. Secondly, there is no running water and hence you carry a bottle or container with a limited amount of water; not like the faucet that you just can’t turn off. Lastly, the compost obtained from the local toilet is natural and best fertiliser for re-vitalising the soil and replenishing its nutrients for healthy crops.
4. There were days when the only source of water around our house was also frozen and thats when we rationed water and treated it nothing less than gold and trust me, its the need of the hour that we use every single drop of water mindfully.
5. We tried our best to not to waste water at all and recycle it as much efficiently as possible. For example : When we wash utensils in the sink with running water, we really can’t see the amount of water that is getting used or wasted. Sometimes when the vessels are difficult to clean, we hold them under the maximum flow of water, thus wasting a large amount of water. However, when we washed our utensils; we used lukewarm water filled in a bowl which helped in cleaning utensils with less water and less scrubbing. To give you a fair idea – We would use 1L of water to clean dishes between 2 people twice a day.
To conclude, Water is an important resource and can be easily conserved by taking a few simple steps. Some of the steps are below :
- Use a bucket to take bath instead of shower and if that is impossible, reduce your shower duration.
- Turn off the tap in between while you brush, wash hands or wash clothes/utensils.
- Keep a check on all your taps for any leakages and if any, fix them on priority.
- Install mechanism in your toilet for half flush at a time. There is a DIY to do it, check on the internet.
Once you understand the importance of water and how it is not unlimited and will be over soon and how our future generations might suffer to get a glass of clean drinking water, it will be easier for you to make adjustments in your current lifestyle to save and conserve it for tomorrow.
I hope you found my experience helpful. Do mention the steps you take in your day to day life to conserve and save water.
The Seeking Soul..