Shorter showers, half flush toilets, thick layers of mulch and running the dishwasher instead of washing up are all viable methods of water conservation but how about reusing clean water that otherwise goes down the drain?
At the time of writing this article, Sydney is in the midst of level 2 water restrictions which means that you can only water the garden before 10 am or after 4pm using a bucket or a watering can. Watering with a hose is not permitted and hefty fines apply.
Grey water which is water from washing machine etc is an option if you have a lawn or if you’re growing ornamentals. When you’re growing an edible garden, you don’t want to water your leafy greens with soap and chemicals, no matter how eco-friendly your washing detergent may be.
Below are 6 easy ways to reuse clean water for your edible garden. I started implementing the first one back in July 2019 before the water restrictions came into effect and the rest have evolved. Now they have become a daily habit.
How to Reuse Water for Your Edible Garden
1. Save the cold water from the shower. Keep a bucket in the shower and use it to collect the cold water until it becomes warm enough then use it to fill your watering cans. You’ll be surprised how much clean water is wasted down the drain.
2. Wash your vegetables in a large bowl instead of under a running tap and collect that water for the garden. Alternatively you can wash them under running water with a bowl underneath to catch it. Then fill up clean plastic bottles until ready to use. If there’s a lot of grit or residue in the water, use a fine strainer over a funnel when you fill up the bottles. Tip: You can puncture holes in the lids of the bottles and use them for watering.
3. Have a small container handy next to each sink, be it in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Every time you rinse your hands (no soap), collect the water and reuse it in the garden or to water your indoor plants.
4. When you’re into boiling veggies or pasta (without salt), don’t strain the cooking water down the drain. Once it’s cooled down, you can reuse it in the garden. The water is full of starch and nutrients which can be beneficial to your plants.
5. Reuse left over ice and drinking water. Water and ice left for too long in the fridge/freezer can go stale or you may have have left over ice after making a cocktail. Don’t throw them out, let the ice melt and reuse in the garden. You can read more about sustainability in the home bar in my article on Cocktails & Bars.
6. On the day rain is predicted, put out every container, bucket and storage tub you have outside to harvest rain water. Even an esky will do if you run out of containers. On the days of heavy rain, you’d be surprised how much rainwater you can collect.
These steps may sound as if you’re going down the thrifty path, and that’s all well and good. Once you start implementing good water and gardening practices, you’ll be surprised to see how much clean water is being wasted down the drain.
If you’re concerned about all that weight you’re carrying, think of the muscle tone you’re building and how much you’re potentially saving on gym membership. Jokes aside, if I can do it – and I’m a petite woman – anyone who is able-bodied can do it.
These simple steps will ultimately become second nature. You’ll be saving on a precious natural resource, putting it to good use in your edible garden and doing your part for the environment.