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We had a really bad drought here a few years ago, the dams that supplied our water for our state's capital city were nearing 10% capacity and we had strict laws that came in.

It was that dry that when we had a downpour I remember my then two year old being terrified because he didn't know what was happening.

The government started up a water board and we had targets of 100 litres of water per person per day. We weren't allowed to wash our cars, houses or footpaths, or fill up swimming pools.

We were allowed to water our plants with a bucket for 30 minutes, 3 days a week. They requested that people have two minute showers. The government sent out free shower timers in the mail. They were a great idea. We bought hoses to attach to our washing machine so when it emptied, it kept our fruit trees alive. (All our grass died, and our yard was a dust bowl. The lawn returned of its own account when the rains came back).

We installed a half flush toilet. The government paid for us to have low flow taps installed in our shower, bathroom sink and kitchen. They also checked our outside taps to make sure none were dripping and repaired those that were. If the children had a bath, they all bathed in the same water and then we bucketed it onto any beloved plants we wanted to keep alive. They also had great incentives for people to install a water tank, and gave rebates to people who bought a water efficient washing machine.

We still have a target of 140 litres per person per day now, and we have to follow strict guidelines to water our garden.

Hope that helps!

Plain and Joyful Living

For two years and three months our family of 7 1/2 (mom, dad, 5 children and baby born during that time) lived in an off grid mobile home. We filled up water reserves using a generator every other day and that totaled about 80 gallons or 40 gallons per day.

We bathed in tubs only every few days, otherwise sponge baths (nobody smelled:) We used a rinse tub for rinsing dishes. We flushed the toilet using about 1/2 gallon poured in the toilet quickly.

We made it work. It is possible.

molly de Vries

Wow, Both of you are such an inspiration to me, thank you for sharing your experiences. I feel like people where I live don't pay attention to water use. Some people I know, shower 2 times a day. Crazy talk right??? I love the good old PTA washing up. The water people are talking about a desalination facility being constructed. I don't know much about it, I just know its not good for the environment and it's super expensive. I know we can conserve way before we start planning something like this. This is such a big subject. I need learn more about it.

Jan Hickerson

Here's a little poem that might help with deciding when to flush: Yellow is mellow, brown is down.


Just on the de-salination plant, we have one on the Gold Coast in Australia and it has been a complete disaster, a massive financial drain and they have just had one problem after another with it. Another thing the government was going to do was recycle water, some people were horrified by the idea, my mother being one of them. I don't have a problem with it, all water is recycled. We are all drinking dinosaur pee as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as 'new' water. It falls, evaporates and falls etc. I tasted some and it tasted great, nice and clean, better than some bottled water I've tried.

Jan's poem reminded me that the used bath water was great to flush the toilet with as well. If it's yellow let it mellow is great but at the height of summer it stank the house up to high heaven!

I just remembered something else as well, before we got a half flush toilet we put a regular house brick (wrapped in a plastic bag) in the cistern to take up space so it didn't refill with as much water.


I was reading your blog and have become even more inspired to be waste free. I was wondering how do you freeze items in your freezer? i am not sure of an alternative to plastic ziploc tubs to freeze left overs in.
thank you

Design Bathroom

I was lucky to find this nondisposablelife.typepad.com website. Thanks for sharing this info. I find it very cognitive as I have been analysing a lot lately on practical matters such as you talk about.

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Mary and Molly are mothers, artists and friends who inspire each other to no end. We are entirely different, yet we are exactly the same. Our devotion to quiet and classic simplicity is equal to our thirst for radical and spontaneous eclecticism. Communally minded, fueled by passion born from outrage, we have embarked on our journey towards a non-disposable life.

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