smak restuarant feature blog

How we’re saving water at smak - because every drop counts

Monday, February 26th 2018

I’m taking 30 seconds showers at home and only washing my hair once a week. I’m letting it mellow when it’s yellow for longer than I have ever done. I’m wearing my jeans until they start standing up on their own. I’m watering my plants with what’s collected in the tumble dryer draw. I’m getting better at using less and realising I need less than I thought.

That’s me at home. Trying my best to be as responsible with my water usage as I can. As a business owner, it’s also my responsibility to make sure that smak uses as little water as possible while keeping up with hygiene and cleaning requirements. It’s not an easy task for any restaurant but we’ve managed to make some changes that are already showing massive results.

We realised that ice machines waste a lot of water

I was shocked when I noticed how much melted water runs off smak’s ice machine when it’s full and decided to do a little experiment. Devin and I installed a 50-litre water canister and redirected the melted water tap to fill the canister.

5 litres every single hour. That’s how much perfectly clean “ice filtered” water went down the drain.

Now, every morning when I arrive at smak and every evening before I leave, I fill 2 x 25-litre jugs with this precious, rescued water and we use it around the shop. You’d be surprised how far 50 litres goes. Because it’s so clean, we use this water to prepare anything that needs boiling and then reuse it to wash dishes, mop the floor, water our flowers etc.

We dry our hands with paper, not towel

In March 2016, we swapped out our hand towels for a paper towel dispenser and quickly realised how much water we saved from now having to wash these hand towels every night when we got home. In a perfect world, fancy towels are a luxurious way to dry your hands but they just aren’t a viable option anymore. Keeping them would have been irresponsible.

On the subject of paper (and the environment), we’ve started to only offer paper straws and paper serviettes to all guests. Our takeaway items will also soon be offered with compostable cutlery instead of plastic cutlery and we’re looking to swap out all our plastic water bottles for glass ones. These water bottles will be sent away to be refilled, meaning much less plastic being thrown in our bins every day.

We’re updating all our taps

We are currently in the process of installing bits to our taps that will reduce our water usage from 8 litres per minute to 1.4 litres per minute. It should be a requirement for all restaurants to install these on their taps. 1.4 litres per minute is more than enough for any business or restaurant. I can’t believe that such a simple change will help us save 80-90% of the water we normally would use. It’s crazy.

What makes me hopeful even though we’re going through such a water crisis is the potential for behaviour change. Perhaps the fear of losing something as precious as our water has made us realise how valuable it is. All I know is that having to adapt my own behaviour at home and at work has changed the way I think about our resources. I will continue to save as much as I can even the rains do come. If we don’t learn from past behaviour, how are we going to shape our future?

Dig in,

Katia Scherf

Co-founder and chef at smak delicatessen and restaurant

Cover photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash

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