Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Home Gray Water Recycling

photo by Sarah Flemming
Clean water is a finite resources, yet many of use use water in the home without much regard for the long-term consequences. According to the EPA, the average American uses 100 gallons of water a day, the biggest offender of home water use being the toilet flush. There are of course many things we all can do to conserve water, but what about actually reusing the water?

Maybe you have heard of gray water recycling before — its the reuse of 'gray water,' mostly for home landscape irrigation. Is this eco-friendly practice really a good idea? With all the graying substances that we add, anything from laundry detergent to fruit and vegetable residues, do we really want to put the things we rinse off and wash with into the soil?

There are many pros of gray water recycling. If of course saves water, and money. It allows households to irrigate shrubs and flowers without taxing the local clean water supply. Practicing gray water recycling also cuts down on your own environmental waste.

On the other hand, gray water is, well, dirty. It can be difficult to collect and move the used water without having a gray water system installed — and its really only well-suited for one household
photo by Robert S Donovan
purpose, watering the plants you are not going to eat. Its not for your vegetable garden! Also, you have to be careful what you use, making sure not to use 'black water,' or water that is too contaminated.

If you use natural cleaning supplies, pesticide-free organic fruits and vegetables and have a lovely landscape to water — it may be a great idea to reuse water from the shower, bathroom sink and kitchen sink. Having a gray water system installed may even be worth it if you live in an area with little rainfall; this allows for an easy transfer of the used water from great gray water sources, the bathtub and washing machine, directly to the landscape. If gray water doesn't fit your specific lifestyle, there are still dozens of ways to cut down on your home water use.

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