Review: 101 Water Wise Ways by Helen Moffett

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Day Zero might no longer be looming large on our Western Cape horizons, but the drought we are experiencing and the lack of sustainable, permanent solutions for the water crisis force us all to consider our relationship with this precious, irreplaceable resource as well as to acknowledge and understand the dramatic climatic changes we have been experiencing throughout recent decades.

Helen Moffett began blogging about ways of how to address the emergency situation around the time when the threat of Day Zero for Cape Town became official and we all began to panic. She was asked by her publisher to write a guide on how we can take responsibility and confront the crisis, rather than hide our heads in the proverbial sand. Moffett sees her book, 101 Water Wise Ways, as “an ally in your fight to save water, and part of your survival kit, along with the first-aid box; Valium for water-worries”. Crucially, she writes with the “humbling” awareness that “Day Almost Zero is reality for countless families”, not only in South Africa but around the world. Some of us should stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We can all take heed and learn.

I was reading 101 Water Wise Ways over a period of two days when copious rains were falling from the skies and the Cape was sighing loudly with relief. But, the winter rains don’t seem to be as generous as we had hoped, and there is no other palpable water miracle waiting around the corner that we could hope or pray for. Whether we accept it or not, we are in this for the long run. Under these circumstances, Moffett’s tips on how to tackle the water crisis feel like a summer’s rain, gentle and invigorating. She believes that we have “an unprecedented opportunity to become better neighbours, stronger communities and more close-knit families” by facing the challenge together, and shows exactly how we can achieve this goal.

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Tips range from general to specific. From how to collect and store water to how to help replenish the groundwater supply in your garden, or to have a water-wise garden in the first place. Among many other easy, useful tips for all budgets, she finds ways of how to approach water scarcity and hygiene while menstruating or remaining sexually active; how to avoid wasting water while cooking or washing your dishes (the teabag tip is priceless!); or how to flush our toilets or install a simple dry urinal. Moffett’s compendium teaches you to cope with this and much more.

The book is never preachy. Moffett does not interrogate who and what is to blame for the current water crisis. Instead, she focuses on what we can do in order to find short- and long-term solutions for dealing with it in our daily lives, whether at home, at work, or as active citizens with social responsibilities. Accessible, practical and often refreshingly humorous, 101 Water Wise Ways takes on one of our greatest fears – running out of water – with a can-do attitude.

101 Water Wise Ways

by Helen Moffett

Bookstorm, 2018

Review first published in the Cape Times on 31 August 2018.

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