Grey water is the water that has already been used in the following ways around the home and office. It is not the water from the toilet, bidet or other kitchen-bound functions. This is known as black water and should be allowed to proceed out of the home or office and into a formal sewage system for purification.
• Washing machines
• Hand basins
Every day, each person can go through hundreds of litres of water in the simple tasks of washing ourselves and the environment around us. Allowing this water to run down the plug is not necessary. Rather, it can be conserved for other uses, making it (known as grey water) a useful tool in our ongoing efforts to be environmentally conscious and responsible.
There is also the increasing problem of water shortages in countries like South Africa, Australia, and South America. It is frequently argued that the problem is not a literal shortage of supply, but bad distribution of available water and poor management thereof. In South Africa, for example, the main issue is that there is not enough room for more dams and reservoirs to catch the available water. Therefore, in these and other lands, the use of grey water can potentially have enormous positive effects on the protection of water, a crucial element of human, animal and plant life.
Currently, the largest proportion of water wastage is due to the discarding of grey water. Up to half of the water consumed in the home for washing and cleaning is discarded. By saving this water and using it for flushing the toilet and for gardening or irrigation, you will be displaying a green-minded attitude towards the conservation of the earth’s natural and undeniably valuable resources.
When using grey water, be careful not to store it as it is particularly susceptible to bacteria and gas production. Therefore, do not attempt to have a tank for this type of water. Rather, let it run directly from the bath or washing machine into the garden or collect it in a bucket and use it immediately. Stagnant water may also attract flies and mosquitoes and potentially be harmful to your health. Because you have already used the grey water to wash your body, home, clothing or dishes, it will already have a fair amount of bacteria in it.
To prevent the water particles from atomising (breaking down into its atomic components and, therefore, not having the same value as the water compound), grey water should be sprayed through a low-pressure nozzle. Spraying it is also advantageous as it means that the grey water does not hit the ground with enough force to penetrate it deep enough to reach the natural water below and spread its ‘unnatural’ bacteria further.
When shopping for washing powders, fabric softeners, body soap and dishwashing liquids, look for ones that are environmentally-friendly and free of phosphates. Such environmentally-aware products are kinder to the earth, having little or no negative impact on the plants and soil onto which they ultimately land.
The reuse of grey water may take a little preparation and forethought. However, when one considers the economic benefits as well as the enormous advantages to your immediate environment, it is certainly worth the preparation.