What is Greywater (and Why Should You Use It?)


Have you ever heard the term greywater? A lot of people haven’t, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Greywater is costing you hundreds each year. How? Greywater is household waste water. In other words, it is the clean water that you send down the drain while you’re standing at the sink, the water that the garden hose wastes when it’s left on and so on. Sounds silly and a bit yucky, right? It’s actually quite the opposite. Learn what greywater is and why you should be using it can actually save you big bucks over the course of a year.

Do you know what greywater is? If not, you need to! It could be saving you hundreds each year instead of cost you money!

First, let’s be clear exactly what greywater is. It’s the water run off that goes down your drain. This means that you will be looking at two different types of greywater. Clean and dirty. Clean greywater comes from situations like the water hose being left on by the kids, by you running the kitchen sink to heat the water up and situations like that. Dirty greywater comes from things like doing dishes, shaving, washing your hands or brushing your teeth. It actually is incredibly important that you learn the difference between the two and it boils down to this.Clean greywater is free of anything other than water including soap. Dirty greywater is everything else including water that has soap in it. If you’re thinking of using greywater, you need to be absolutely certain that you know the difference. Dirty greywater can only be used for certain things whereas clean greywater can be used for almost anything.

What is Greywater (and why should you use it?)

Secondly, let’s be clear on why you should be using greywater. Ready?

When you washed your hands last, did the water run down the drain? Congrats. That water that ran down the drain? You paid for. When you washed dishes last, did the rinse water run down the drain or did you fill up the sink? If your water ran the entire time? Congrats. You paid for your water to run down the drain. When you boiled your pasta for dinner the other day, did you strain it dry down the drain? How about the last time you made hard boiled eggs? When you brushed your teeth this morning? When you shampooed your hair last?

You paid for all of that water to go down the drain. In fact? You’ve likely paid thousands of dollars for that water, day after day, over the course of your adult life. Why waste that money?

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In addition to the waste of money, there’s also the waste of the water itself. As much as we’d like to ignore this little tidbit, potable water (meaning it is drinkable water), can easily be a finite resource on Earth. Don’t believe me? Ask the residents of Flint, Michigan. Talk to someone who has been affected by the California or Texas droughts. I’m more than sure they would educate you just how easily good, clean water can go *poof.*

Greywater, while it won’t completely cure the issue of running out of water, can help with it if enough people make use of it.

To begin collecting greywater for your own use, you’ll first need to figure out where you want to collect the water from. You can use your kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, garden hose, collect shower water that doesn’t hit your body and some folks even reuse bath water. You can do all of the above. Bath water is a bit much for me, but to each his own. Once you’ve decided where you will collect from, you’ll need to find some sturdy buckets to collect it in. Be sure to measure before you go out and purchase a bucket.

Once you’ve got your collection bucket, buy a drain filter too. You don’t want something that will plug your sink, but you do want something that will filter the water to keep any food or other big particles from getting into it. That my friends is a great way to grow something very nasty under the sink. No matter what you’re planning on using the water for, you don’t want food particles in it. Place your bucket under the drain on one side of your sink and unhook the drain so that any water that flows into the sink will drain into the bucket.

Once you’ve got a bucket full, use it for whatever you need! Some families use it to wash the car, some water their garden or plants with it, some use it to flush their toilets or whatever they might use water for. If the water was clean, you can use it for anything that you would normally use water for. If however, the water had soap in it (say from washing your hands), don’t use it for anything garden or plant related. The soap can kill them.

No matter how you look at it, using greywater is just smart in certain situations. Would you consider it? Do you already collect your greywater?

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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family. A true gypsy soul, her newest blog, Unsettled Hearts, chronicles the journey of her family to become full-time travelers. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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