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What is greywater?
There is a growing push by homeowners to use their recycled bath and laundry water, otherwise known as greywater systems for homes. It doesn’t include water from your toilet which is known as blackwater.
Blackwater from your toilets must continue to be flushed down the sewer or septic tanks.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Science School estimates that each person uses on average 80 – 100 gallons of water per day.
The largest use of water in homes is the toilet followed by laundry, showers, and baths. This amounts to a lot of waste water. However, using greywater is a really smart way to make your garden, trees and even orchards look beautiful without having to rely on tap or tank water.
Whenever you do the laundry you’ll also be watering your plants.
When the greywater hits the soil, the bacteria in the soil break the soap down into plant food and clean water. The plants just love this type of water and eat it up.
Do’s and don’ts when using greywater
Turns out there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. If you don’t get it right it’s possible to damage plants, soil and even put your plants and children at risk.
That’s because greywater contains chemicals and bacteria, as mentioned earlier, which can cause serious harm when put in the wrong place.
You shouldn’t use kitchen waste water as greywater including the water from your dishwasher because it has a high concentration of food waste and chemicals. The trio is normally referred to as FOG (food, oil, and grease) which can damage soils and plants.
A greywater system can be as simple as a bucket of water from the shower or a more complex plumber fixture system.
You must be aware that greywater can contain pathogens and disease-causing organisms but if you stick to a few simple rules when using it in your garden it’s quite safe to use.
Make sure you don’t store the greywater for more than 24 hours. Try to use it right away because apart from the smell the bacteria can really multiply in greywater quite rapidly.
If anyone in your house has the flu, measles or stomach virus make sure you stop using the greywater for that period of time because it can actually increase the chance of germs spreading to other members of your family.
Keep your greywater safely away from pets, children and people and use it where the plant needs it the most, directly at the root of the plant.
Greywater should never come in direct contact with the edible part of the plant. Especially if the vegetables are to be eaten raw. Cooking helps protect against harmful bacteria that may end up on the surface of the plant.
Don’t hose or spray greywater around your garden because you’re just spreading those chemicals and bacteria and this can also ruin the plants.
Make sure you rotate the areas of the garden that you are watering and don’t overdue it because you don’t want patches of greywater lying around.
Make sure your greywater doesn’t run off into storm water drains or neighboring properties. And be sure to wash your hands after using it.
Allow a buffer zone between your irrigation system and the edge of your property as to take extra precaution so no greywater spills onto your neighbors property.
Greywater is waste water but you can dramatically increase the quality of that water by doing a little bit of careful planning.
For example, thinking about the type of detergent that you use to wash your clothes. Choose one that’s garden safe like Oasis laundry detergent. This detergent is soil friendly and an excellent choice for residential greywater systems for homes.
Switch off your greywater system if you’re bleaching or washing dirty clothes. Try to distribute your greywater over as large an area as possible to dilute salts and nutrients across the whole garden.
Are you using greywater straight away?
Are you using garden safe laundry detergents?
Is greywater pooling in your yard or running off of your property?
Are your plants still looking healthy?
Is your soil changing in any way?
Installing a greywater system in your home can definitely help you be a little bit greener while also helping to lower your monthly water bill while helping to preserve our world’s natural resources.