It was wonderful to have some rain here in Tokyo over the weekend, after 25 straight days with no precipitation. The trees near my apartment look a little happier, but the rainfall did little to alleviate the low water levels in the reservoir that supplies Tokyo. We’re still facing the possibility of restrictions on water use, either voluntary or mandatory.
Given this drought, and those in other parts of the world, I’d like to point out a nifty way Japanese conserve water: more than half of households re-use their bath water to do the laundry. I mentioned this in a column I wrote about laundry frequency, but I think it bears repeating.
The photo above gives you an idea how it’s done. In a Japanese home, the washing machine is usually positioned right outside the bathroom. Many washers are equipped with a furomizu pompu (風呂水ポンプ bath-water pump), which easily transfers water from the bathtub so it can be used to wash clothes. You run the hose to to the tub and let the pump do the work.
Keep in mind that bath water is just for soaking; you clean your body outside the tub before you get in. Even after all members of the household have had their soak, the water is pretty clean. In a survey cited in my column, about 60 percent of those responding said they use recycled bath water for the wash cycle, and 32 percent said they use it for the for first rinse too.
It’s a smart idea. Even if you’re not set up to recycle your bath water, please look for ways to conserve water. How about sharing a water-conservation tip by leaving a comment below? Please spread the word on Facebook and Twitter too.