Or, what does the new normal really look like?

I was at a dinner party recently, and the conversation inevitably turned to the current water situation. People were comparing how we manage to stay clean. Some of us choose to shower less often, but when we shower it’s a nice one, while others prefer a daily rub down. One person asked with exasperation, are we going to have to stay grubby forever? Is this how we are going to live forever?

The question caused a bit of silence, followed by the jokes that dinner parties exist for – to give us some light reprieve from the daily struggles. But it stayed with me and I want to try answer it here.

My answer is yes and no. Yes, some things have to change – for example how and what we plant. We need to rethink lawns, for example. Lawns in shared spaces like public parks I believe is justified, but at household level I would rather argue for indigenous, drought tolerant plants. The Cape Green Forum, a business network for landscapers and similar peoples recently (August 2017) hosted a workshop resulting in a website to assist with planting guides, for example: the Cape Resilient Landscaping Forum.

But also, no. We need to find better ways to supply water for the things we need – like proper showers. We need water to thrive, and having a strained relationship with how much we are allowed to use does little with keeping us well-balanced. Finding ways to improve our relationship with water is key to Water Sensitive Design, and as individuals we can help explore this. This is rewarded in the AquaSavvy campaign through category 1: Individual actions and retrofitting existing buildings.

We need to change how we think about water, we need to make it more visible to our daily lives, at all levels. The new normal demands us to be conscious about our water use, but this does not need to be a restrictive consciousness. Let’s find new ways to thrive!

The featured image is of an artpiece by Daniela Forti.

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