The article below provides some good grey water recycling tips and information. If grey water is to be temporary stored in holding tanks or water tanks, remember that it must bot be stored for more than 24 hours as bacteria and other potentially harmful micro-organisms could begin to multiply.
Greywater recycling is characterized as the reuse of household water from dishwashing, laundry, sink and shower usage, as well as the catchment and use of rainwater.
Greywater accounts for 50-80% of residential water waste and although it’s generally clean of dangerous pollutants, it goes straight down the drain after a single use. And much of what is wasted has not actually been used at all, such as warm-up water from your shower or sink.
Greywater systems are what we put into place to catch and reuse this water. They can be simple and manual, or more complicated, automatic and gravity-fed.
Greywater vs. Blackwater
It is important to note there is a substantial difference between “greywater” and “blackwater”. Blackwater is water that contains contaminants such as faeces or harmful toxins (usually this is toilet water or any water containing harsh chemicals). Blackwater must undergo purification and should never be reused untreated.
Greywater recycling takes a bit more planning than other water conservation tips and it can be more work depending on your greywater systems.
One of the best uses of greywater recycling is in the yard or garden. Some greywater shouldn’t be used on fruits or veggies, especially edibles in which the leaf is eaten (leafy greens, herbs, etc). Other times greywater may be used to clean outdoor items, or even wash the dog. Sustainably committed individuals can use greywater to flush their toilet, instead of the fresh water that is usually pumped into the holding tank.
But the use of greywater all depends on what the water has been used for and what is in it, so keep those soaps and cleaners non-toxic and biodegradable and steer clear of chemicals or other unhealthy substances. (You were doing that anyway, right?)
Statistics: Approximately 65% of household water use can be reused a second time as grey water.
Start Greywater Recycling Today
Greywater recycling and greywater systems don’t need to be complex. There are many simple ways to capture and use your greywater or water waste without a complicated system. These take a bit more time or work but using these tips can literally cut your water bill in half.
- If you have a garden, a large grey water tank or an array of up-cycled barrels set up outdoors may be optimal in saving greywater for use at a more convenient time.
- Put a tub or bucket in the shower or sink to capture warm-up water. This is clean water, and technically not greywater, so use this where ever you wish! Although they make new fancy water catchments for this, an old 5 gallon bucket that would have been thrown away works just as well. Do some searching on Freecycle to save money and resources. (And try to find one with a lid to minimize sloshing!)
- When washing fruits or veggies, fill a bowl with water to rinse. This water can then be reused in the garden, for house plants or to flush the toilet.
- If you handwash your dishes, consider washing and/or rinsing in large bowls of water, rather than the sink. A bowl of icky wash water goes great in the compost. A bowl of rinse water can go almost anywhere. Be sure your soaps are all-natural.
- If you use a dishwasher, scrape excess food into the compost or trash, rinse any dishes in a small bowl of water, dump the water in the yard, garden or compost pile (depending on how dirty the water is)and then throw the bowl in the dishwasher with the rest. You can also reroute your drainage hose to go outdoors or into a tub in your home.
- When washing your hands or brushing your teeth, do so over a bowl to capture the greywater. This should be clean enough for use anywhere outdoors.
- Connect your washing machine drain hose to a bin or tub to drain the greywater. Be sure the bin is large enough to accommodate the wash and rinse cycles.
- An outdoor sink (or even an indoor sink depending on your level of commitment) can be retrofitted for collection under the sink by removing the plumbing underneath and replacing it with a water catchment device, such as a large bucket or basin. You would need to be more aware of your water levels to avoid overflowing.
- Depending on your yard design, the use of a pond or series of ponds or the use of slopes, channels and swales can help you disperse water throughout your garden.
Greywater Recycling Systems
Greywater systems are more complex than simply capturing waste water in a bowl. It works as indoor plumbing should, and without much help from us other than maintenance.
Normally gravity-fed, greywater systems may direct your greywater from your indoor plumbing into holding tanks outdoors (similar to rainwater catchment). Holding tanks should not need any treatment but should be covered to prevent a mosquito breeding ground.
Greywater may also be fed directly into an outdoor pond or series of ponds. Ponds, given the right combination of plant and animal life, can even filter the water for you. Planting a landscape around the pond can ensure your plants get the water they need without any work from you.
Source: Sustainable Baby Steps (Abbrev.)
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