Only 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater. It’s important to be conserve it so that we have stuff to come out of our taps (nobody wants another hose pipe ban!). Recycling water has become big business. Whether you want to keep your house greener, whether you are trying to make your office eco-friendly or whether you are a council member trying to make their community more environmentally-friendly, here are some ways that you can keep that water flowing by embracing recycling.
The UK gets a lot of rain – something we love to complain about it. But doesn’t have to all be bad. In fact, unlike many other countries, we have a readily available source of freshwater at our disposal. Many gardeners will invest in a rain barrel. Even if left unpurified, this mineral-rich water can be used for watering plants during the dry summer months (it’s healthier for your shrubs than tap water).
Other methods will purify the water and make it drinkable. The most popular way of harvesting rainwater is through special tanks. These collect fresh rainwater off the roof, which is filtered to get rid of leaves and sediment and then purified. Such tanks can be bought for personal use or be used to quench the thirst of a whole neighborhood. As with many environmental features, planning permission is generally not difficult to gain.
Recycling sewerage is a much more lengthy and costly procedure, although much needed to preserve our ecosystem. Given how much waste us humans create, it seems only sensible to do something useful with it.
Many local councils invest in a wastewater treatment plant for their community. These plants take the water through multiple treatment processes that extract the liquid and continuously purify and disinfect it until it is drinkable. Toxins, phosphorous and nitrogen are all removed during the process. By the end, it can end up cleaner than fresh water from a mountain! The remaining sludge is meanwhile carted off and used for agricultural purposes. Nothing goes to waste.
Greywater is a name given to all that other waste water produced in the house. This includes drainage from sinks, showers, washing machines and dishwashers. Greywater is generally easier to recycle than sewerage and you can get filtration methods for your home. Some of these will not make the water necessarily drinkable, however it can be reused for flushing toilets.
You can also use grey water as a way of watering crops, as certain food nutrients can be very healthy for plants. However, you should be careful of certain salts and toxins from soap and detergents, as these could have a negative effect on the growth of shrubs. In an office where there is less likely to be wastewater as a result of shampoos and conditioners, greywater has more potential for use. Offices and homes providing greywater to local farms should ensure that all their sanitary products such as hand soaps and washing up liquid are biologically friendly.