Have you ever thought about your water usage when doing laundry? Older agitator top-loading washing machines use over 40 gallons of water on an average size load of laundry. Wouldn’t it be great if you could divert that water directly to your outdoor plants, quickly, cheaply, and safely? This concept is totally within reach when you install a graywater system! Look no further than the Laundry to Landscape: Hands-on Graywater Workshop, sponsored by co-partners Sustainable Contra Costa and Graywater Action, on May 13. To register, go here.
This hands-on workshop takes you into a private residence in Walnut Creek (location given upon registration), where you’ll learn from the experts at Graywater Action what the requirements are for a laundry-to-landscape system, what materials are needed, and how to install and use one effectively.
There are three general types of graywater systems, but the easiest, least expensive, and most low-tech one is the clothes washing machine system, which requires no permit and uses gravity to work. You and your fellow workshop participants will actually install this type of graywater system together so you can learn how to do it in your own home. No prior experience is necessary!
As its name suggests, graywater is untreated, “gently used” water that is not contaminated with food or human waste like water from kitchen sinks or toilets (which would be called "blackwater.") Although laundry water has been used to wash clothes and is not potable, it is considered perfectly fine for watering outdoor plants and landscaping as long as bleaches and harmful detergents haven’t been used. There are plenty of products on the market that are considered environmentally friendly, low in phosphates (salts), and biodegradable, therefore, not harmful to plant growth. To reduce direct contact with this “waste water,” you can direct irrigation to avoid the edible parts of your vegetable garden.
Saving water is as relevant as ever. For the perfect, post-Earth Day activity, consider installing a gray water system. You will convert your laundry system into a water saving device and use your water twice!