One of the biggest things you can do in your home to look after the environment and the pennies is, repurposing your grey water. Grey water is what we call all the waste water we use for general use around the home for example; kitchen sink, dishwasher, washing machine, shower, bath, bathroom sink etc … Although this grey water is dirty and we are unable to drink it we can repurpose this water for other things without any chemical treatment needed.
When we first moved into our house 3 years ago all of our grey water was fed into a cesspit at the bottom of our garden. This cesspit is not one that works with a sock away, ours is an enclosed plastic onion shaped container that has to be emptied every few months or so. What we found as a family of 5 was it is extremely expensive way to get rid of grey water. The company who comes out to empty our cesspit charges £190 a visit and we were having to call them out on average every 3 months to take all our waste water away. So over a year we were throwing £760 down the drain, we just could not afford washing this amount of money away.
To save money I started a save the cesspit campaign by attaching the kitchen grey water pipe outside of our house to buckets during the summer to water our plants. This however became unworkable for my back and the buckets. Next we extended the outlet pipe from the side of our house and attached it to a rain water butt to collect our entire kitchen’s grey water. This help reduce some of our water wastage but we are still a family of 5 and that’s 5 people taking showers, washing faces, cleaning teeth. Resulting in a lots of grey water wastage from our bathroom. Similar to what we did with the kitchen, we unattached the bathroom grey water pipe from the outside of our house, extended the pipe and attached it to another rain water butt. In doing these 2 simple things we now only have our cesspit emptied once a year saving us £570 a year and we never have to use the hosepipe to water our garden through the summer months.
Here is a photo of one of our water butt that collects grey water from the bathroom.
You may think you have to buy special equipment to collect grey water. As you read above we managed to adjust our house to collect grey water by buying two water butts and some extra lengths of plastic pipe. If you don’t want to adjust your pipe work you can;
- Remove the waste pipe from under your sinks and place a bucket (Just remember to empty your bucket of grey water into a more permanent storage until you need to use it or else you we get a flooded room or will have to buy a lot of buckets.
- Use a bucket to empty your bath instead of using the plug hole.
- Remove the waste pipe connection from your house waste pipe and your washing machine. Place the waste pipe into a bucket to collect all your washing machines waste water. (You will need a lot of buckets for this as you will be surprised how much water a washing machine uses.)
I would recommend you do buy a couple of water butts so you can empty you buckets and store your grey water until you need it.
Although you can reuse grey water there is a few things you have to think about before you start collecting and reusing.
- If you want to water your garden with your grey water first you need to stop using any products that contain chemicals and toxins. You need to switch to homemade cleaner or environmentally friendly cleaning products. There are lots of environmentally friendly alternative products on the market from Bio to Ecover.
- Your collected grey water ideally needs to be reused within 24hrs to avoid any bacteria being built up while you water is being stored.
So we have stopped using any products containing chemicals or toxins, we have worked out a way to collect the water and store it for around 24 hrs. What can we use this water for? We mainly use our grey water in our garden and in the summer months to flush our toilet.
I still can’t believe that just by making a few changes in our home we have hugely reduced our water bill (by reducing our water usage) and the amount of money we spent by flushing it down the drain.
Do you repurpose your grey water?
Or would you consider repurposing your grey water?