A Super Simple Greywater in the Suburbs Plan

A Super Simple Greywater In The Suburbs Plan

Pretty watering cans?

After researching greywater do’s and don’ts (as summarised in this post) I discovered I could possibly heat our house a teeny bit, and save water, at the same time. The thought thrilled me. You know that I love to be efficient. You know that I love to save the earth and my money all at once. A super simple plan was beginning to form in my mind. But I needed watering cans. Four of them.

The creator of our beautiful caddies were contacted.

After a lengthy search on the internet I realised watering cans that were pretty and large and affordable at the same time were not to be found in South Africa. So I contacted Pascal, the creator of our clever caddies (unfortunately we do not sell them anymore…). Pascal and his co-workers make just about anything from tin and he once again did not disappoint. Four beautiful 10l watering cans arrived on my doorstep and we were ready to go.

Pascal did not disappoint!

And manpower of course

The super simple plan is this: You remember that hubby has us all bath in the same tub of water? We still do that. But here’s the change: instead of the last bather pulling the plug and having all that lovely warm greywater run down the drain, we leave it in the tub. Viola! The heat of the water gets transferred to the air, as well as much needed moisture. Granted, it is not much heat or moisture, but because we have all our bedrooms together with doors that can be closed between us and the rest of the house, the area that needs heat and higher humidity is small. We have not put a heater on once this winter! And our youngest did not once suffer from croup as he used to every winter. Perhaps it was a warm winter and perhaps our son is outgrowing his croupiness, but perhaps our primitive plan DID have something to do with it. At no cost. Yeeehaaa! Besides, greywater has to cool down before you can use it in the garden.

Labour intensive.... yes

Next morning, my three darling children and I all take our watering cans, fill it from the bath and water the garden! As easy as that! No pumps! No electricity! And a shared chore is fun.

A shared chore is fun!

Greywater that is fresher and does not harm our plants

We also use our very own BODY to wash bodies and hair. All our ingredients fully biodegrade in less than 28 days. This way we know nothing in the water will hurt our plants or the soil in our garden. Also, the microbes needed to keep the organic material in the greywater from rotting fast, are the same microbes in all our soap. So we know the greywater will not stink quite so soon.

To be honest I don’t think we would go to the trouble in a wet summer. But during a very dry winter such as this, it works like a dream. Our roses really needed the extra water. And it would otherwise just have gone down the drain! Teaming with life makes sense.


And Here We Thought Greywater Was Easy!

The move we never want to repeat

In December 2016 we moved. We left the rolling green hills of Kwazulu Natal behind for a sectional title house in Pretoria. ‘There are pros and cons about everything,’ we told ourselves and braced for impact. We moved in on what must have been the hottest day in human history. Fortunately we had very few things to move really. We had no fridge and no kettle (that translates to neither Coke nor coffee…misery!) and no a whole list of other things as well. 

Sad fact 1

So when I got up from our krismisbed on that first morning and saw the sunrise through an electric fence instead of through the lacy leaves of an avocado orchard, I knew I had come face to face with Con Nr 1.

This used to be the view from our front door
Here's our current view from just about anywhere in the house

Sad fact 2

For a middle-aged couple with three darling children it is daunting to leave the loveliness of a community on a farm in the sticks. The life we lived there can hardly be called homesteading, but it certainly was idyllic. Hubby grew his own strawberries, and we had just about every kind of fruit tree in the tiny piece of the communal farm I could call our yard: two apple trees, an orange, a lemon, a grapefruit, a white guava, even a clementine! We kept one bee hive. I made my own cottage cheese from maas and brewed a fresh batch of yoghurt every evening. Hubby even had a go at making gouda and it worked! We had our worm farm in a box behind the house, we fed our azaleas rooibos tealeaves, I baked bread with real yeast and oh! …we never had to pay for water or electricity.

Enters Con Nr 2. In our new life, we feared these two accounts. We tackled the problem with gusto. On day four in our new home, every bulb in the house was replaced by LED bulbs. No matter that it cost more than R2000! We were doing our bit for the environment and counting how many cents we would be saving each night. It was incidentally also on day four that we discovered our greywater had turned foul…

Greywater really stinks

Hubby had us all bath in the same tub of water every evening and then scoop the (by then) really grey water into a 25l plastic drum. This was then lovingly dragged to the courtyard by the back door with the intention of later using the water to irrigate what was left of the drought stricken garden. When one of those drums were opened on day four, we realised it was not going to be as easy as that. It smelled rotten. In fact, it smelled dangerous. Mentally the cost of the municipal account was weighed up against the cost of a hospital stay and without further ado the water went down the drain.

So how do you do greywater in the suburbs?

This small episode kickstarted some research about greywater: why does it smell? Can the smell be avoided? How can it best be used in a suburban home inhabited by ‘normal’ people? If you have these questions, continue reading my blog because I will be answering them in later posts.

Although the drought has eased ever so slightly in Pretoria, vast parts of the country are still suffering. Have you been more successful in implementing a greywater system?