Gray-water: Don’t Throw Out the Baby or the Bathwater

Gray-water: Don’t Throw Out the Baby or the Bathwater

Janel Laban
Jun 18, 2007

(Welcome again to Manda, one of the finalists in our Editor search for the upcoming Green Therapy blog. Comment away!)

Gray-water is one of those terms that separates the hardened greenie from the "just learning to separate your paper from your bottles" start-up.

For those of you who have been throwing around the word, but aren't actually sure what it means: gray-water refers to water that has already been used in your home (excluding black-water: think toilet), and can be re-used. Usually gray-water is re-used for irrigation, but it can also be re-used for many other purposes.

Gray-water is one of those green things that most apartment dwellers discount. You might, however, already be reusing your gray-water without the fancy language. Maybe instead of pouring out the glass of water that you didn't drink you put the water into a plant or give it to your dogs.

There are many small ways of reusing water in an apartment. There is the low-tech, but slightly embarrassing work of bucketing up the water from your bathtub and using it to flush your toilet or fill your washing machine.

And then there is the more conventional and slightly higher-tech options like disconnecting the down-spout on your gutter and letting the water run into your yard or, even better, getting a rain-barrel and catching rainwater for use in your yard.

And there are some gadgets designed just for you. The one in my house that gets the most attention is the faucet on top of the toilet. Called the sinkpositive and found at, this gadget works by taking fresh water from the pipe and running it through a faucet where one is encouraged to wash their hands. The water then goes to fill up the toilet bowl (thereby getting its reuse) and all of this happens whenever you flush the toilet bowl.

It is cool, hygienic, and well worth the price ($90) as a conversation piece.


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