Water is a precious resource, even in Britain where we enjoy quite a moist climate! Having clean water for drinking, bathing and washing is a real benefit and one of the things that, if the truth is told, separate developed from developing nations.
However, even though we’ve got it quite literally on tap, we shouldn’t squander our water. At certain times of year, finding enough water for everybody’s needs becomes more difficult. This is especially the case in big cities like London: enough water needs to be found for all the millions of people, and this water has to be clean enough and safe enough to bathe and wash in without any risk of diseases like cholera and typhoid.
Other places, of course, have to be even more careful with water, especially if droughts are common. And if you have metered water where you have to pay for what you use, you probably want to save all the water you can as a way of saving money.
What you don’t need to do is limit the amount of water you drink or switch to using bottled water or, what’s worse, soft drink. Instead, look at using grey water creatively. What is grey water? It is water that you probably don’t want to drink but is perfectly safe to use for other purposes. For example, old bathwater, the water from the washing machine and water used for washing dishes are all grey water. However, what gets flushed down the toilet is not grey water – this is “black water” that should not be reused (you can, of course, limit the amount of water flushed or even switch to a composting toilet, but that’s another topic).
What can you do with grey water? Generally, this depends on the amount of soap or other substances there are in it. Very soapy water, such as the water used in the wash cycle (as opposed to the rinse cycle) of a washing machine, probably isn’t the best to use for watering the garden, as it may burn the plants if used in quantity. It may, however, be used to spray roses for aphids or for washing other things, such as floors, driveways or cars. Catch it in a bucket. This water can be diluted with less soapy water (e.g. bathwater, water from the rinse cycle) and this is suitable for use from your garden cleaner London when doing the garden.
Here are some quick ideas for catching and reusing grey water:
Bathwater: if you have an upstairs bathroom, use a hosepipe to siphon water directly into the garden for watering plants.
Dehumidifiers: the water can be used for washing by hand, watering plants or even for flushing the toilet. Don’t drink it.
Hot water bottles: This water is tainted by rubber, so don’t try to drink it, as it tastes vile. Use it for watering houseplants.
Final rinse: catch it in a bucket and add it back into the machine to wash the next load. Some washing machines may do this for you.
Serious environmentalists construct their houses so the grey water is piped specially for irrigation. This may or may not involve the use of “bladders” where the water is held until use.
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