What can you do?
"Take care of the earth and she will take care of you."
- Author unknown
Friends of Maara Roa on site.
Photo supplied by Friends of Maara Roa.
Things you can do in the home
"Waste not the smallest thing created, for grains of sand make mountains, and atomies infinity."
- E. Knight
View of tranquil Pauatahanui Inlet.
In the Wellington region we use over 1000 million litres of water in an average week. According to the Greater Wellington Regional Council this amount would fill the Wellington Regional Stadium right to the brim. Roughly 60% of this water is used at home.
Why is this a problem?
Wellington's water supply has relatively little storage capacity; we rely on there being enough water each day in our rivers and aquifers to meet the day's water use. The more water we use, the more water has to come from our natural environment to meet our needs and the more water that has to be treated using electricity and chemicals to make it safe to drink. Thus the more water we use, the greater impact we have on the environment.
What's more, during periods of less rainfall there is less water available. Reducing summertime demand for water, helps avoid the need for tougher watering restrictions.
What you can do?
In summer the key is careful watering in the garden, but there are also things that can be done around the home to reduce water use.
In the kitchen
If you have two sinks and are washing dishes by hand, you can fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water. If you don't have two sinks then you can fill a large container to use for rinsing.
You can soak pots and pans instead of letting water run while you scrape them clean.
You can wash your fruit and vegetables in a dish of water and then reuse the water to water your house plants.
You can compost vegetable food waste rather than using the garbage disposal.
You can keep a container of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap to avoid waiting for the water to cool down.
You can designate one glass per person in your family each day to cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
You can defrost food in the refrigerator rather than under running water (this is better for food safety too).
If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, you can put them on a house plant.
You can reuse water left over from cooking or steaming foods to start a delicious and nutritious soup.
You can avoid running your dishwater until it is full.
In the bathroom
You can replace your showerhead with a water-efficient model.
You can put food colouring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, then you have a leak. Fixing the leak will save water.
At the same time you can fix any leaky faucets.
You can put the plug in your bath before turning the water on, and then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
You can turn off the water while: lathering soap on your hands, brushing your teeth, shaving and washing your hair.
You can shorten your shower by a minute or two.
You can clean your teeth or wash your face in the shower.
You can put a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up and then use this water to flush toilets or water plants.
You can avoid flushing unnecessary things such as tissues down the toilet.
In the laundry
You can match the water level to the size of the load.
You can run your clothes washer only when it is full.
You can wash dark clothes in cold water to save on water and energy and help your clothes keep their colours.
All around the house
If you keep fish, you can give the nutrient-rich water to your plants when you are cleaning their tank.
If you are buying new appliances, consider those that are more water efficient.
You can install water-saving aerators on all your faucets.
You can make sure everyone in the family turns off faucets tightly after each use.
When you give your pet fresh water, you can use the old water to water your plants.
For more information
View of a wind turbine in Wellington.
Saving power is a great way to save the planet and save your wallet. Even small changes in how you use power in the home can have large impacts on your power bills. For example, turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby can save 10% of an average household's electricity each year.
For some tips to saving power in your home, check out the following link from EECA:
For information about energy use in New Zealand and the Wellington region, check out the following links:
Image showing a pile of paper waste for recycling.
To make our communities and our homes sustainable it is important to manage our waste. Sustainability.org.nz estimates that up to two-thirds of our house-hold waste could be reduced, reused or recycled in Porirua it is estimated that only 6% of what is thrown out needs to go to the landfill. Cutting down the amount of waste produced in your home can save you money by reducing spenditure and money spent on waste disposal.
Porirua City Council website includes a number of pages on recycling, waste reduction and waste disposal.
These pages include links to more information about reducing, recycling and reusing waste.
Things you can do in the garden
"Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites."
- William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990
Image showing planting of natives in a garden area.
No matter what the size of your garden (even if you have none at all) you can enjoy the pleasures of gardening and use your garden to help make a difference. You can grow your own vegetables and make your own compost from vegetable scraps, you can plant native plants to attract native birds and lizards into your garden, and you can control weeds from your garden escaping into our native bush. If you have a larger property that you are thinking of protecting or restoring, please see our Heritage Site Owners section.
It's important to be water conscious when gardening as it is easy for a garden to become water intensive. Here are some tips for reducing water waste in the garden:
- You can adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered – not the house, sidewalk or street.
- You can water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
- You can adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.
- You can use sprinklers only for large areas of grass, and water small patches of grass by hand to avoid waste.
- You can reduce the amount of lawn in your garden and plant native plants instead.
- Maybe difficult in the Wellington region, but you can avoid watering your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
- You can use a rain gauge, or empty tuna can, to track rainfall on your lawn and then reduce your watering accordingly.
- You can set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop.
- When the kids want to cool off, you can use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most. You can also avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water
- You can spread a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture and saves water, time and money.
- You can collect water from your roof to water your garden.
- When planting, you can group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while underwatering others.
- You can use a layer of organic material on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water.
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, you can place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
- You can direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems toward water-loving plants in the landscape for automatic water savings.
- You can make sure you only water your plants when necessary - more plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
- You can make sure you apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
- You can use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
- You can check your outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.
- If using a commercial car wash, you can use one that recycles water. Or if you're washing it at home, you can wash it on the lawn and you will water your lawn at the same time. The same goes when you are washing your dog.
- You can report broken pipes, open hydrants and errant sprinklers to the property owner or Council (call Council's Customer Service Centre on 04 237 5089).
See the Greater Wellington Regional Council's webpage on Water Conservation.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables
There are a number of sites with information on how to grow your own fruit and vegetables which you can find via Google. Also have a look at:
Or alternatively, there are many books in the library on the topic.
Native plant gardening or gardening for native birds and lizards
The Department of Conservation has some great resources for native plant gardening or gardening for native birds and lizards:
Continue to Civic History or return Porirua's Natural Heritage.