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Water and Why - by Mandy Preece

I woke excited. This was it: week 1 of our HarmLess life! My family was going to switch our lifestyle to become more HarmLess than harmful to the planet. Yes!!!!!

It was a rocky start. I mucked up on train times and ended having to drive further than I wanted to a station (my son and I were determined to do our day out by train). I took some containers with us shopping so as to avoid plastic but then couldn’t fit the fish we chose in the container. But the kindness of strangers was extraordinary. At the station café, the owner gave me 30 pence off my Latte for brining my own cup and then free chocolate wafers to my son when I told him about HarmLess51. The fishmonger gave me second-hand plastic containers to use. I realised people want to help. Everyone wants to Harm Less – they, like me, just don’t know where or how to start. My advice, start somewhere: but please start.

My son, aged 10, was very affected by learning about Water Aid at school. He was distraught that children in the world don’t have clean drinking water. It made me very conscious that although we live in a country with abundant rainfall, reducing the amount of water we use will help protect water resources and wildlife. It will also save us money. So while we have made other changes this week, our main focus has been water: how to reduce our water usage.

I began by timing my shower. It takes 1½ minutes for the hot water to run through (roughly 2 litres) then I used 10 litres more to shower. So HarmLess showering for me this week has been to capture the first 2 wasted litres in a bucket, jump in the shower once the water is hot and time my shower so I use no more than 5 litres.

Hubby uses the shower over the bath. He captured the water before it ran hot too and then he put the plug in, caught all the water he showered in and the scooped it into a bucket. He thought that would take ages, but it only took him just over 1 minute to scoop about 8 litres.

We then used all that saved water to flush the toilet! We’ve saved 60 flushes this week. An average flush uses 5 litres of water, so that’s 300 litres of water that we have saved while showering!

I attended some Mindfulness training at my son’s school today. The tutor reminded me of how we do many everyday activities on auto-pilot but being HarmLess is about looking at our auto-pilot habits and questioning them. Do we leave the tap running while we clean our teeth? Do we overfill the kettle? Do we spend longer than we need to in the shower? HarmLess isn’t about killing our joy – I love a hot shower – it’s about changing our perspective. My new joy is to have a hot shower but also see if I can stay within my 4½ minute timer.

For other top tips (statistics) to reduce your water usage, check out Waterwise here:

Other changes we have made this week is to bake rather than buy, avoid plastic packaging (almost succeeded), order a regular organic veg and fruit delivery supporting a local farmer who only sells what he grows, began clearing a section of our garden to grow our own food and my usual activism on Twitter where I ask companies to explain their needless packaging. But, it hasn’t been perfect and I have to remind myself that this is not a contest; it’s a life change. I have to be gentle on myself because change takes time and perseverance. But persevere I will because my wake-up call was this video and it is why my family seek to HarmLess:

Visit for more from Mandy!

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