Green Campus Initiative's water-saving tips

07 February 2017 | Compiled Helen Swingler. Photos Michael Hammond.
Gardener Jonathan Fritz irrigates a campus garden using buckets.
Gardener Jonathan Fritz irrigates a campus garden using buckets.

The City of Cape Town imposed Level 3B water restrictions on 1 February in their attempt to reduce water usage in the face of rapidly diminishing dam levels and an uncomfortably distant rainy season.

The Green Campus Initiative, which was started in 2007 by a handful of students and staff to address issues of sustainability at UCT, has put together a simple list of the things that everybody can do around campus and in their own homes to save water.

In the kitchen

  • Collect the water you use to wash vegetables and use it to water your garden.
  • When boiling or steaming vegetables, collect the water, cool it and use it for gardening.
  • If you have a dishwasher, use it only when it is full. Hand-wash small loads of dishes.
  • When rinsing dishes, don't leave the tap running. Use a sink or basin for rinsing instead.
  • When buying groceries and planning your meals, think about the water footprint of each food item.
  • Avoid leaving your taps running. Use a cup when drinking water instead of using your hands to drink from a running tap.

In the bathroom

  • Use a weighted object (like a plastic bottle filled with water) to displace water in the toilet cistern, which then uses less water with each flush.
  • While waiting for water to turn warm in the shower, collect the cold water in a container to use for gardening.
  • Check your toilet for leaks by putting food colouring in the cistern. If the colour appears in the bowl without flushing, there's a leak that needs repairing.
  • Turn off water while brushing your teeth.
  • Turn off water while shaving. Instead, rinse your razor intermittently in a little hot water in the basin.
  • Don't use your toilet as a dustbin for flushing away cigarette butts, used tissues, etc.
  • Replace your shower head with a more water-efficient one (available from most home and hardware stores).
  • Time how long it takes you to shower and decrease it by two to five minutes.

Green Campus Initiative's water-saving tipsWater savings can be effected by adding water-filled plastic bottles or safe solid objects to toilet cisterns to reduce their capacity.

In the garden/backyard

  • Put a layer of mulch (bark, leaves or gravel) around trees and pot plants to slow down water evaporation, especially during summer.
  • Use a pool cover when the pool is not in use to prevent evaporation.
  • Water your plants during the cooler parts of the day – early morning or in the evening – to prevent evaporation.
  • Try not to water your garden on windy days as the wind leads to faster evaporation.
  • Choose plants that require less water – these are often indigenous plants.
  • Buy a rainwater collection tank to collect water for your garden.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your gutters or driveway.
  • Consider installing a grey-water irrigation system.


  • Check all your taps for leaks and have them replaced where necessary.
  • Use your washing machine only when it is full or adjust the water level setting on your machine according to the load.
  • Store grey water in buckets to help flush toilets, water plants and wash cars.
  • Use clean water only for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Download, print and display the City of Cape Town's water-saving poster...

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