by: Leslie Jones

When I say the word recycling, what types of materials come to mind? Plastic? Aluminum? Paper? Water?.........Really, water? Waterrecycling is becoming more and more prevalent among recycling enthusiasts.

Getting people to buy in to the concept of water recycling is more difficult than it should be since we have literally been drinking and showering in recycled water for decades. Water is actually one of, if not the most, wasted natural resource, on the planet due to its abundance.

Water recycling is usually broken down into 3 or more categories: Simple Water, Greywater, and Treated Water recycling, among others.

Simple Water Recycling

Many people intuitively recycle water at home. Sharing the shower or saving bathwater for a pet's bath is a multiple-use strategy that conserves water. Using the water that drains from one house plant to water the next is a simple recycling practice. Recycling the water in which you cooked vegetables into a soup base conserves the nutrients and flavor. You can recycle rainwater for bathing and hand-washing laundry, and residents of some Asian and African countries harvest rainwater as their primary water supply.

Greywater Recycling

Greywater results when you use fresh water to bathe, do laundry or wash dishes. This water works well for outdoor irrigation, provided the detergents you have added are phosphate-free and low-sodium. You can set up a diversion pipe to deliver greywater from a household source to lawn and garden areas, or you can transport greywater in containers to water individual planting beds. Local municipalities may have regulations governing the use of greywater, so check first before investing in a greywater diversion system.

Treated Water Recycling

A home water filtration system will purify tap water for drinking if you don't like the taste or are concerned about additives or toxins in the municipal water supply. By purifying potable water, you can avoid the cost of bottled water as well as conserve the energy that goes into processing and packaging bottled products. Home filtration systems may recycle tap water via distillation, reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, ultraviolet disinfection or other purification processes. To help determine the type of filtration that best suits your needs, ask your public utility for its latest water-quality assessment to identify any contaminants that need to be addressed.”*

Recycling water is a concept that is not necessarily new, but not as accepted as more conventional recyclable materials. There are guidelines, or suggestions rather, to keep our most abundant natural resource reusable and....well, recyclable.

Minimize Chemical Use

Eliminating or minimizing your use of harsh chemicals provides the surest way to protect global waters from chemicals. When chemicals leach into a body of water, they can devastate ecosystems. Nitrogen and phosphorus, commonly used in fertilizers, lead to a surge in algae growth when they enter a water body, killing off existing aquatic life, for example.

Dispose of Hazardous Materials Correctly

Proper disposal of hazardous materials such as paints, motor oil and pharmaceuticals keeps them out of the water supply. Inquire with your municipal center about chemical pickup or drop-off locations in your area.

Reduce Water Use

Lower your water usage to keep water supplies cleaner by reducing chemicals used in treatment. Additionally, it keeps water available in aquifers for the times when people really need it, ensuring that more water won’t be drained from the ecosystem. In contrast, irresponsible water usage can lead to droughts.

Keep Runoff Minimal

Water that runs down streets after rainfall, or after you wash your car with a hose, carries toxins from streets and yards that eventually may reach waterways. Sweep rather than hose down your driveway if you need to get rid of debris. When washing your car, use a bucket instead of a hose. Having porous outdoor surfaces like gravel, as well as gardens, also minimizes runoff.

Reuse Water

Design a home rainwater capture system and greywater reuse system to help maximize your home water use. A basic rainwater system channels water from gutters into a collection barrel. A greywater system designed and installed by professionals recirculates water through your home in non-contaminating ways. For example, water used for showers or washing dishes would always be fresh and clean, but after it has been used, it may be channeled to the toilet and flushed away.”**

Whatever your interest is in recycling, don’t forget water as a recyclable resource. If we intend to recycle for the benefit of our future users, the most abundant natural resource is a great place to start.

nationalgeographic.com