Around a year ago I was watching a David Attenborough documentary while eating my dinner and discovered a fact that blew my mind. David said, ‘All the water that is on earth has been the same water since the beginning of time’. I must have heard this fact before, most probably at school, but for some reason I had made it all the way to the ripe age of 28 before I could really comprehend it. I was thrown into wonderment and awe for this incredible planet of ours and felt elated at just how amazing it is. I was drinking water that could have passed through a dinosaur millions of years ago. WTF. From this moment on my thirst and passion to know more about water, to explore it and my own relationship with it grew. I also knew I had to make a show that was inspired by this fact but wasn’t sure where to start.
As I had no real knowledge of water, water systems and how it all works I decided, with advice from Katie Villa, to find an ‘expert’ who I could talk to, to get a foundation of knowledge around water. I met with Peter Melville-Shreeve - an academic researcher at Exeter University - whose focus is on rainwater harvesting. And through conversations and questioning each other's chosen practise (art - science) we came up with the idea that I’d do a durational ‘experiment’ that would inform my creative process on the show and also aid his own research. It was important to both of us that the experiment task incorporated a clear environmental focus too, we came up with ‘15 litres of water’.
I would live off 15 litres of potable water a day for a year. This amount will cover all my watery needs from showering to watering my plants. Why 15 litres ? Well apparently in the UK we use between 135 and 150 litres of potable water a day as individuals, so 15 litres is approx 10% of that amount. Why 10%? It’s a nice round number, and will be enough of a challenge to significantly shift my habitual usage of water within my days, but just enough to not make it impossible. I will also be able to add to my usage by harvesting rain water and river water and re-using any water that would normally go down the sink, mainly from my housemates’ washing up. I have learnt this is known as grey water.
Peter and I will be working closely over the year to find ways around any issues I come across. He will help me to install rain water harvesting equipment into my flat so I can collect rain effectively, which I can then use for flushing my toilet/watering my plants etc…
This is very much a personal challenge and I am excited about what lies ahead and eager to experience how my relationship with water changes and grows. One thing that feels important as part of this project is to offer the chance for others to get involved in this exploration, through ‘Litres for Life’.
Together we can make a difference to our collective habitual water wastage.