the baby and the bathwater...

lucy gets a bath every night. it's part of her bedtime routine and she happens to LOVE it... it's seemingly one of the most contented spots in her day. we bathe her on the kitchen counter, in a little baby tub that holds about 5 gallons or so. we dump the used water into a small rain barrel in the backyard that sits on our deck. i have a little pot with a handle that i fill up with the bathwater to water the container plants with. and they're doing really well! normally any kind of potted plant would be looking pretty sad this late in the season, but i keep watering them in order to make room in the barrel for the next tubful of water. that's 35 gallons per week of repurposed water that would otherwise be headed down the drain.

before lucy arrived, i was filling that barrel up every few days with the hose. not too effective, since it's not tightly lidded and water can, i suppose, evaporate. but it's nice to have water right on hand to water quickly, rather than dragging the hose all around the deck every time. using lucy's bathwater is the perfect solution on both ends. we use only a very teeny bit of biodegradable soap (california baby calming shampoo & bodywash) and the plants don't seem to mind a bit. on the contrary, many of them are flourishing.

my goal before the year's end (with a ton of help from my talented husband) is to get this system working on a larger scale. i'd love to be able to make use of the greywater from the washing machine. not the diaper loads, but the regular clothing loads. as a test not too long ago, we disconnected the drainage hose on the washer during a rinse cycle and let the water drain into a 5-gallon bucket. i think we collected 20 gallons for a medium-sized load. since a load of laundry drains twice (once for the soapy water, and again for the rinse water) we could be repurposing 40 gallons of greywater for every load of laundry... currently about 3-4 loads per week... so around 120+ gallons of water. we use biodegradable laundry soap as well, so i am assuming that the plants & lawn wouldn't be harmed.

until then, i'll keep recycling water as best i can by hand. i've found myself dumping pots of h20 into the front yard when i'm rinsing dishes or waiting for the water to warm. instead of just letting it pour down the drain, i place a bowl underneath the tap. easy enough. and since here in the bay area we're experiencing mandatory water rationing due to a severe water shortage, i figure that every little bit helps. especially when it comes to our bill!

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