We are all familiar with the importance of recycling paper, plastic, and to some extent food and fabric; however, most people are less conversant about recycling water in the home, although it is relatively easy to do, and it yields a number of benefits.
Most of the waste water a household generates is known as “gray water.” Gray water is generated from regular water usage such as hand-washing, rinsing vegetables before cooking, and the like. Your shower or bath water is also considered gray water. In contrast, the waste water generated when you flush the toilet is known as “black water,” and it should not be reused.
Gray water can be recycled for other uses virtually everywhere around the home – except in food preparation. This means you can use it to water the plants (water the soil, and not the leaves), as a first rinse when you’re washing the car, or to flush the toilet. The immediate benefit from recycling water is that you will reduce fresh water usage greatly. This reduces household water consumption substantially, saving you money in the process.
In addition to using less water, recycling gray water helps to prevent water wastage. Water usage in the United States outpaces that of other countries greatly; most Americans use 80-100 gallons daily. By contrast, people in countries such as India, China, and other developing countries often make do with less than the daily minimum of 13 gallons per day per person. Taking steps to implement or increase water recycling creates greater awareness of the need to conserve dwindling resources.
Aside from reducing usage and preventing wastage, recycling water around the house means that less of it will be obtained from sources that cannot be replenished. Using water that is meant to be consumed to irrigate a garden or to fill the toilet reduces the available pool of water that can be used as drinking water. In light of the importance of having a sustainable water supply, Singapore pioneered NEWater, which converts a small amount of “reclaimed” water into potable water, while the rest is used for industrial purposes.
Likewise, using water more than once ensures that less waste water, whether treated or untreated, is released into the environment, where it may pollute and disrupt the aquatic environment.