Greywater, green plants (Day 103)…

June 11, 2007


The term “greywater” has always intimidated me a bit. It’s one of those terms environmentalists like to drop into conversation every now and then all casual-like, sometimes even turning it into a verb, as in:

“So. Do you greywater?”

“Pff, yeah — who doesn‘t greywater?”

Well, whenever I heard people talking about it, I’d get visions of some complicated, multi-faceted, go-go-gadget filtering contraption, a bit like the one above — a “wind-powered greywater evaporator” — built by the dude standing next to it, whose screws may just be as loose as his collar.

But when I sucked up my ignorance and crept over to Wikipedia, it gently patted me on the head and proceeded to explain what exactly greywater was in the most basic diction, ie. dishes, laundry, bathing and cloudy.

Neither drinking-quality fresh, nor hazardously polluted, greywater is — as its name suggests — in a bit of a grey zone when it comes to how safe it is for reusing on plants or as toilet water. Some people who live off the grid (Greenpa, perhaps you can speak to this) swear by it and set up proper filtering units to make sure it’s done right. But I’m really not much of a handywoman, and I’m not sure it’s entirely legal to rig up my sink pipes to my toilet tank, so for now, I’m keeping it simple.

The plan is to only water my plants with greywater. Chances are, this will be coming from what’s left over from a pot of boiled pasta, or the rain that collects in my watering can outside, or the stuff that’s been sitting in the bottom of my water bottle all day (hopefully the basil and peppermint don’t mind a little backwash).

Photo courtesy of Spiritualmonkey at, where else, Flickr

Raising the roof question

March 28, 2007

If you only have one roof, do you go for the green one, the rainwater harvesting one or the solar panelled one? An eco-savvy friend of mine insisted you could do all three at once — you can work it so that the green roof also channels rainwater down into a reserve, and solar panels can go along the sides, or they don’t even have to be on the roof to begin with. Perhaps you could even throw up some wind turbines while you’re at it. But maybe it comes down to cost, or practicality, or maybe a peaked roof is more conducive to certain options than a flat one, and vice versa. Anyone got an opinion on which roof wins the green prize?