Domestic water recycling ideas

January 25, 2013 at 11:14 am

Even though most of the earth’s surface is covered in water, only one percent of this is freshwater. With the UK among those countries now facing alternate dry and wet spells, more and more people are looking at ways to conserve the most precious and arguably the most wasted of natural resources, water.

In terms of recycling water within the home, the watchword of the moment is grey water. This refers to mains water that is no longer suitable for drinking, due to the fact that it has been contaminated by prior use. It is far from useless, however, and can be recycled easily. Water from bathroom sinks, showers and baths all counts as grey water. Depending on the type of detergents and washing up liquids you use, water from the washing machine and the kitchen sink may also be recycled but you must avoid products containing harmful chemicals such as boron.

Perhaps the simplest form of water recycling is the extension of gutters coming from the roof in order to water the garden. Alternatively you could divert that water into a barrel and attach a hose to it. Chlorine free, it’s even better than mains water for the garden.

The next stage in water recycling requires a bit of plumbing. There are now commercially available units that take water from bathroom sinks, bath and shower and divert it to the toilet cistern ready for flushing. More advanced systems collect all grey water in a separate tank and re-route it as required; you can even install a UV filter to render harvested rain water fit for drinking.

However, before we get into septic tanks, sand filtration systems and rainwater harvesting we need to change our attitude to water, all too often seen as a free and endless resource. Once we do that then we can put into play all kinds of simple ideas to conserve and recycle water. For example, wash your vegetables in a basin then pour that onto the plants, do the same with water from cleaning a fish tank. If you have been boiling vegetables, then the nutrients and flavour make for a great stock. Stack your plants so that the excess run-off from one goes to feed another. These are all simple and ingenious ideas that add up to a healthier environment, and bank account too.

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