7 Tips for Conserving Water - Let's Not Wait For A Summer Crisis

24 September 2014

Every year in New Zealand we have droughts.  Even famously rainy, damp Wellington has come close to running out of water. 

Beyond our shores water is a massive issue.  Many countries are suffering crippling and deadly droughts, and access to clean and safe water is an issue affecting 780 million people.

We often forget about water conservation until the middle of summer hits and council ads go up - or, at worst, a water crisis hits.  But establishing good year-round habits can help us avoid a crisis. 

Here are 7 ideas to make a difference in our daily lives:

Accessorize your shower

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  • Shower timers:
    The Sustainability Centre in Lower Hutt offers free shower timers (pictured) care of the Hutt City Council that help you limit your shower times.
  • Shower flow restrictors:
    Many showers emit more water than you need, and these cheap flow restricters can help reduce the waste.

Fight food waste

The production, packaging and transportation of food take a huge amount of resources, one of which is water.  So when we waste food we don't just waste the food itself, we waste everything that went into making it.

For example, tossing out an apple wastes the equivalent of seven toilet flushes(!).  These numbers and more info can be found in this great Taste the Waste of Water video.

Good principles to reduce waste include:

  • Plan your menu and shopping before you head to the store
  • Share, donate or preserve excess fruit and veges
  • Prioritise eating your oldest foods first
  • Once every 3 or 6 months have fun eating everything in your freezer and pantry - this cleans out all the items you've pushed to the back of the shelf, and encourages you to come up with different tasty meals

Fix leaks

A dripping tap can waste up to 90 litres of water a day, so everything counts.  If you've got a leaking tap or toilet cistern call your local plumber or roll your sleeves up and get in there - you'll definitely deserve a treat once the job is done! 

Here's a clear guide to fixing a leaky tap yourself.

If your toilet is leaking (water runs continuously into the bowl), it will most probably be an issue with your inlet or outlet valve.  This video guide helps determine which it is and shows you how to easily replace the valves.

Hack your toilet

In the average NZ home flushing the toilet is the single biggest use of water, using approximately 41 litres of water per person, per day.

If you're updating your bathroom look for the 'water rating star' stickers to find the most efficient toilets. 

If you're not in the market for a new toilet, hack your old one!  If you have an old single-flush toilet this can save a lot of water.

  • Fill a 1 litre plastic bottle with half pebbles/sand and half water, and close tightly.
  • Place this carefully into the toilet cistern, making sure it won't interfere with any internal mechanisms.

The plastic bottle takes the place of water in your tank, so every time it fills it doesn't use that extra litre. 

Reuse grey water

Grey water is the water we use for many daily functions that isn't suitable for drinking, but can still be used to water your lawn and many plants.  Collect grey water by putting a bucket in your shower or (if you're feeling DIY adventurous) re-routing your washing machine's outlet house.

Remember to only use biodegradable, grey water safe products in your shower or washing machine to keep your garden and environment healthy. 

Set up a rain water collection system

Rain water is free and certainly plentiful in our beautiful Wellington!  It's a great source of plant and lawn watering.  This tank from the Sustainability Trust in Wellington City is an easy way to utilise what's coming down your drainpipes.

Spread the good work!

  • Discuss water use and conservation ideas with your friends and family
  • Suggest measures your school and workplace could take to contribute to water saving (installation of low-use toilets and dishwashers, ensuring all leaks/drips are fixed, etc)
  • Share this post on your Facebook or Twitter


Enjoy the upcoming spring and summer, and let us know how you're saving water!  We'd love to hear your great ideas.

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