Recycle Your Water

Greywater, sometimes spelled “gray water,” refers to the water that goes down the drain that is perfectly good water, like when you wash fruit or vegetables in the sink or when you shower, that could be used for something else. Blackwater is the disgusting water you’d never want to touch again, like the water from a toilet. Blackwater, bad. Greywater, good, though not something you’d want to drink.

In many cases, you’ll want to consult with a professional plumber to design a greywater reuse system, especially since some states and communities have regulations governing the use of plumbing systems and greywater. Roto-Rooter’s Paul Abrams says some homes have pipes leading from the kitchen to a bathroom toilet, so that any wasted water flows not toward the sewer but into the tank.

Some homeowners have created do-it-yourself greywater reuse systems. Marie Oaks, an American chef living in Bosque Village, a sustainable village in Mexico, outfitted her kitchen with a basic greywater system that cost her less than $100 to set up. She has a tube running from the kitchen sink to the outside, through a pit of sand and gravel for filtration, and leading to the gardens.

“To re-plumb a kitchen or bathroom sounds daunting,” admits Oaks, “but keeping a bucket in your kitchen to save water that is used to rinse rice, beans, or fruits and vegetables is quite easy and powerful. A family of four could water a substantial vegetable garden using the greywater they harvest from their kitchen.”