Are you struggling to wash your hands without singing “Happy Birthday” in your head or counting to 20 seconds?!
How much more vigorously and consciously are you washing your hands these days? I’ve never thought about it quite as much as I do now. I saw a video on LinkedIn which was great for showing how you should wash your hands, to make sure you get every single part of your hands clean. You’ve probably seen it, it’s the one with white gloves and they add some black liquid to show where the soap would go. It then goes through at least 5 or 6 different hand positions/movements you have to make in order for the black soap to cover all of the white gloves. It’s quite mesmerising! But it’s also very helpful for making sure we’re washing all of our hands and not just little bits of them.
It’s great for making sure we all have thoroughly clean hands (which is clearly the priority right now), but when you actually do what the government are recommending us all to do, which is wash your hands every 20 minutes, that’s around 54 times a day! For any of us keen on saving water, or at least conscious of keeping a lid on how much water we use on a daily basis, that means we’ve got a new challenge. According to Google (so it must be true), on average people wash their hands 12 times a day (in normal circumstances, so quite different to now because there’s nothing normal about life at present), which uses just over 25 litres of water per person per day. Increase that to even 20 times per day washing your hands, which seems quite likely for most people right now, and that figure jumps up to over 40 litres of water used per person per day.
So if we care, what can we do to minimise the amount of water we’re using?
Well, firstly we can turn the tap off whilst we’re washing. Whilst you’re doing all those mesmerising hand movements making sure your soap covers every square millimetre of surface area, you can turn your tap off.
The same can be said for when you’re cleaning your teeth – I’m sure you do this anyway, but perhaps the reminder is a useful one?!
Another way to reduce your water usage is to make sure you fill up your sink with water and wash all your dishes at once, rather than wash your dishes under a running tap. Better still, most dishwashers use such low amounts of water now that if you have one you’re better to use it, rather than wash dishes by hand. As long as you only put your dishwasher on when it’s full.
You can also save water whilst cooking. Minimise how much you put in the pot. Minimise how much you fill the kettle. It all helps to save water.
I assume you’re already taking showers of less than 5 minutes anyway, if you care about water conservation. You could always see if you can do it any quicker by timing how long you take in the shower and trying to beat it each time?! As the weather has warmed up recently you may also be drinking more cold water. Does that mean every time you pour a glass of water you run the cold tap for a few seconds to make sure the water comes out cold? If so, don’t do this! Fill up a jug or a bottle with water straight from the tap and
then keep it in the fridge. Then use this cold water to fill your glass and you’ll be saving water with every glass you drink.
There you have it. Six ways you can make sure you’re doing your bit to help reduce the amount of water you’re using, even whilst we’re all washing our hands as often as we are. Please make sure you call people out on these things too! It’s all about awareness. People don’t waste water on purpose, they’re just not thinking about it. You can help them and help us all by dropping a subtle hint for them to turn the tap off, or have quicker showers! It may sound petty or silly now, but if predictions come true and we suffer severe water shortages in less than 25 years time, we’ll all be looking back and wishing we took responsibility a bit sooner.