Saving “Grey Water” in the kitchen is an easy way to help maintain a garden during drought conditions or just save money on your water and sewer bills. Simply put grey water is dirty water that is still clean enough to be used for yet another task. Basically it is in the “grey” area between completely clean and completely dirty.
Completely dirty water is called “Black Water” and is the stuff you flush down the toilet, have used to dilute toxic chemicals, etc. Black water cannot be used again without being industrially sanitized.
As you can imagine most of the water that goes down the your kitchen sink can be reused.
There are a number of ways to use grey water but for the purpose of this article we are going to focus on using it to water house plants, gardens and small lawns.
The water you use to wash produce is a perfect example of grey water. To utilize it fill a small bowl with fruits or vegetables and barely cover them with water. Use only this water to wash them.
The idea is not only to save the water for your gardening or house plants, but also to use as little water as possible in the first place. This can be very helpful if you live in an apartment and only have a few plants to water or if you have to use bottled water because your local water source isn’t safe for consumption.
Another alternative is to catch the rinse water in a bowl. You’ll end up using more fresh water this way but if you have a large garden or small lawn that might not matter as much.
Hot water isn’t necessary to clean produce. To save energy use cold tap water whenever possible. Dawn style dish soap is safe for both you and your garden if you feel you need more than just water to wash your veggies.
It’s important to note that any residual pesticides and synthetic fertilizers on vegetables and fruits you rinse will end up in the soil you use the water on.
On the bright side it will be much less concentrated than with regular produce. Commercial farms use these chemicals in such a high concentration that hazmat suits are often required for the workers applying them.
If the idea of adding any amount of synthetic pesticides to your garden bothers you, only use this type of grey water water on non edible potted plants.
Tubers (potatoes, yams, etc) have their own special chemical issues, namely sprout inhibitors. These types of agricultural products only affect tubers, so simply use their washing water to water your lawn, houseplants, other types vegetables, etc.
The first step to save water while washing your hands or washing dishes in the sink is turning off the water while lathering and turning it back on only when you’re ready to rinse.
To step up the water savings place a bowl or tub underneath to catch the rinse water. Boom, you’ve got grey water for your lawn or garden. (Don’t worry, hand soaps are also safe for plants.)
Raw meat residue and grease can cause rotting in plants and can encourage the growth of pathogens on herbs and produce so be selective when saving the water.
As long as it doesn’t have any fatty or meaty chunks, toxic substances, or a high concentrations of salt, water used to wash dishes that held cooked meat are fine for most watering needs.
Save water for your veggie garden from washing your hands after gardening or washing the cutting board after chopping onions. Save water from washing skillets and plates to use on your lawn.
Let the washing water from fiddling with engines or cutting up raw chicken go down the drain to be processed by the sewage plant. It’s not ideal, but few things are.
Unsalted cooking water like the kind used for steaming vegetables, dumplings, etc. is grey water as well. Just salt the veggies after they’ve been cooked.
Dump old pet water into your lawn water bowl when you freshen up Fido’s or Snowball’s water dish. Just be sure to fish out any floaters first.
And don’t forget the unfinished human beverages. As long as they are calorie free, that is free of all macro nutrients not counting fiber, they are safe enough to water the garden without risk of causing rot. Juices and other sugary drinks can be used to water the grass. Just remember that broth is not a beverage.
Can you think of any other types of grey water hiding in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments section. As always have fun, and remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.