Over the past year, unexpectedly, the city has cut its water consumption by 40 percent. “Bucket showers”—or catching the water in a plastic tub for reuse—are now the norm. Washing dishes in pure water is a luxury; kitchens smell of days-old dishwater. People put out ungainly tanks in their yards to harvest rainwater, smothering whatever grass might be left. Wealthy South Africans, traditionally, have had fastidious cleanliness standards, a way of distinguishing themselves and of tapping the vast labor reserve of cheap maids. Now, being able to show a visitor day-old urine ripening in your toilet bowl, proving you do not flush, is a proud moment. Body odor is less taboo. Many women have radically adjusted their haircare routines: embracing natural curls to diminish the need to wash and style, shampooing only once a week or, as one woman told me in a discussion on a community-run drought Facebook page, “experimenting with spraying my hair lightly” with a plant mister. Others chopped hip-length hair off into bobs or Sinéad O’Connor shaves. A queer friend of mine complained she didn’t know who to hit on because “there are queer haircuts everywhere.”
How the city of Cape Town has come together in the face of an extraordinary, once-in-300-years drought.
By Eve Fairbanks in The Huffington Post.