Usually water is clear, but sometimes it’s “grey” or even “black.” You may have heard the terms, but you may not know what they mean or what you could do with grey water.
Grey water is basically lightly used water — greywateraction.org describes it as containing traces of dirt, food, grease, hair and certain household cleaning products.
Maybe not clean, but usable
Grey water might not be the cleanest, but it is still usable in many ways, including as water for irrigation outside.
While grey water is OK, black water shouldn’t be used for irrigation.
Black water has come into contact with feces either from the toilet or from washing diapers.
So now that you know what grey water is, why should you use it?
Using grey water is good for the environment because you are reusing your water. Instead of using your clean water just once, you are basically using your water for all it’s worth and getting more money out of it.
Using grey water can lower your bills, which everyone likes. And it helps conserve water, too.
Stay away from toxic cleansers
Greywateraction.org says the easiest way to use grey water is to pipe it directly outside and use it to water ornamental plants or fruit trees. Grey water can be used directly on vegetables as long as it doesn’t touch edible parts of the plants.
When you are using a grey water system, however, it is important to put nothing toxic down the drain. This means no bleach, no dye, no bath salts, no cleanser, no shampoo with unpronounceable ingredients and no products containing boron, which is toxic to plants.
It is crucial to use all-natural, biodegradable soaps, with ingredients that do not harm plants.
For example, most powdered detergent, and some liquid detergent, is sodium-based. Sodium can keep seeds from sprouting and destroy the structure of clay soils. Chose salt-free liquid soaps and natural products to keep your grey water as usable as possible.
Simple ways to make a difference
If you decide that piping grey water directly from your sink, tub or washing machine is out of the question, there are still ways you can reuse water and reduce your water bill.
One simple way to reclaim unused water is to put a bucket under your shower to collect the water that normally goes straight down the drain while you’re waiting for the water to get hot. The water you collect in the bucket isn’t even grey, so it can be used in any way you would use water from your garden hose.
Even if you don’t use a grey water system, it’s a good idea to use “natural” products to reduce contamination of other water sources outside your home.
Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week
Rainbow Parrotfish have been known to change their shape, color and