'Composting toilets' and 'Day Zero' dominate Cape Town Google searches

Johannesburg - As Day Zero - the day when taps will run dry - approaches for Cape Town residents, the city’s internet searches have seen a surge in water-related topics including pit toilets. 

According to Google Trends, the search term “waterless toilets” reached a peak in search results over 12 months on January 28. 

Google Trends numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. 

A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term and a value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.

Similarly, “composting toilet” became a ‘breakout’ topic on Google Trends, meaning the search topic grew by over 5 000%.

Google Trends point to all search queries from “waterless toilet” and "composting toilet" emanating from the Mother City. 

Also topping the list of Cape Town search results is “water tanks”, in which interest spiked to 700% since November 2017.

The topic “cape town day zero” also saw a 200% surge in searches in the past 90 days. 

Scramble for bottled water and JoJo tanks

According to data from product comparison website PriceCheck, Capetonians are scrambling to get their hands on bottled water and JoJo tanks.

PriceCheck reported a 577% increase in searches for ‘bottled water’ since December in anticipation of Day Zero, set for April 16. It said that ‘JoJo tanks’ are one of the most searched for items across the site.

PriceCheck data also showed that ‘artificial grass’ is among the five most searched for products on the site.

While it would be tempting for suppliers to push up prices, PriceCheck CEO Kevin Tucker said there has not been any abnormal movement in this regard.

He does, however, note that “prices of specialised water saving products and devices are on the rise”.

“Too many Capetonians have made the change to water-conscious living too late,” he said, adding that the move to higher grey water consumption and getting the tools needed to do this should have been done earlier.

Those preparing themselves for Day Zero should, meanwhile, stock up on some basic provisions.

“When Day Zero hits,” Tucker says, “everyone should have the following available in their homes: hand sanitiser and wet wipes, bottled water, kettle/stove top or heater and pots, buckets as well as basic medication to keep any water-borne illnesses at bay”.

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