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What's Graywater?

Graywater is great for the planet. If you’ve ever looked into sustainable or DIY construction of a home, buying a sustainable home, or even just making your own home more eco-friendly… …then you’ve probably heard the term thrown around once or twice. But what is graywater? And what makes it so great? Graywater is basically “used” water that can be recycled or used again.


This “recycling” of water helps cut down on using (and spoiling) clean drinkable water, and it cuts down on the energy consumed to make it available, too. Before you think graywater sounds unusual or atypical… …there is graywater in practically every single home, and it can be reused! Yes, even in your home, too. Greywater comes from sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, showers, and tubs. (Though not the toilet…that is referred to as 'blackwater.') Graywater may contain small traces of dirt, cleaning products, skin cells, hair, and the like, but it is still usable. Used water from these devices may not be clean, drinkable, or appropriate for cooking, but it can be used again for other things. Such as:

  • Watering your lawn

  • Watering houseplants

  • Watering your garden

  • Replacing clean water for blackwater uses (like the toilet)

  • Rewashing certain items

  • Other grow systems like aquaponics

Keep in mind: If you’re hoping to water plants that you plan to eat from your garden, graywater may not be the safest to use!

Be sure to choose cleaning products that are environmentally friendly in your shower, tub, dishwasher, or washing machine.

This includes safe and biodegradable shampoo, conditioner, body washes, soaps, toothpaste, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, dish soap…you get the idea.

For some of these reuses, graywater is even better than clean water.

Especially when caring for plants: the bits of dirt, skin, etc. are full of nutrients they love!

What do we humans get out of reusing our graywater at home? For one, it can really lower your water consumption and your water bill.

This can pinch some pennies and save you and your family some money.

And as I already said above, the benefits for the planet and the environment are obvious…

…less water consumption is less energy spent, which can have an environmental effect.

The most exciting thing about graywater? Practically any home can set up a graywater system!

From something rudimentary to a more sophisticated setup, here are some of the best ways to utilize your very own graywater:

  • Change your hookups.

This may require a plumber, though it is a basic process and very easy for most people to learn and do.

Drain hook ups from your washing machine, dishwasher, sink, or tub can be run outdoors into water storage places: buckets, a cistern, rain barrel, or even directly to a hose or irrigation line for watering and other reuse purposes.

As a possible tip, Earth Conscious Life community member Louise N. recommended: "Pass the water through a rough filter layer of straw. This catches the bits and the fats and stops them making your storage tanks rancid and smelly. The straw infuses more useful nutrients into the water and once the straw is full of bits of food, hair, fats, etc it can be composted for use in the garden later."

  • Buy or install a graywater system.

These do require a plumber to install but allow you to have a graywater system and use it in a clean, neat way within your home. It is always important to observe and comply with local rules and check with your city to ensure you following proper code. For those trying to lower their carbon footprint and lead a more sustainable life, there are tons of options… …though graywater remains one that really should be implemented more commonly.


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