Graywater

20140710_124927-001Here’s a fun summer project (and by “fun” I mean you’ll learn something and maybe make the world a better place at the same time).

Step one: Put an empty pitcher (or tub or bowl or whatever) next to each sink in your home.

Step two: Whenever you let the tap run, waiting for the water to warm up before using it (ex: before washing dishes or washing your hands or face), collect the cold water in the pitcher.

Step three: At the end of the day, stare in amazement at how much perfectly good water we let go down the drain.

There’s a term for the waste water we generate – graywater – the water from your laundry, showers and bath. A family of four generates more than 100 gallons of graywater per day (3,000 gallons per month). And brilliant minds have come up with ways you can make the most of that, too (check out graywatergardening.com).

But at this point, I’m just focusing on the water we take for granted, as if it were a limitless resource. I ask my boys, “Would you let the tap run if you had to walk a mile or more to get your water every day?” Or, “What if we lived in a drought prone region and had a limit on how much water we could use? How would you treat it then?”

For more than a year now, we’ve gone beyond the project (above) and kept pitchers near our sinks to catch the good stuff. We also save the remainders of our drinking water – the cups of water our boys insist on having before bed, but don’t always drink; the last couple of ounces in the water bottle I left in the car; the water I boiled, thinking I’d make pasta, then changed my mind. It all adds up. And it all gets used – watering houseplants; filling vases when I bring flowers in from the garden; adding it to the washing machine as it fills; in cups where I rinse my paint brushes.

Sure, I’m hoping even this small effort can make a difference in the big picture. But, more than that, I want to ensure my family is mindful of gifts that are easily taken for granted.