Dirty Secrets You Cannot Wash Away

I am sure we can barely imagine life without indoor plumbing, but with the convenience comes waste… get it? Waste. Sorry for the potty humor.

Toilets account for about 30% of a Canadian household’s water usage.

I have always put jars of water in the back of my toilet tank to reduce water waste by displacement. Recently though I have started something new. *Leans in and whispers* I flush my toilet with grey water.

Grey water is lightly used water, from sinks, washing laundry, dishwashers et cetera. To start using grey water, I simply put a bucket in the sink to catch the used water from washing hands and brushing teeth. I must warn you, your toilet water will always look murky and the bowl will not be the sparkling porcelain you once revered. This is easily fixed when company comes over by flushing the toilet as you normally would and giving is a quick once over with some white vinegar, baking soda and a toilet brush. Chemicals going down the toilet are concerning if you care about being environmentally friendly.

I have implemented the old adage “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” which gives me the time to catch enough grey water to flush the toilet which uses up to 1.6 gallons of water per flush (approximately 6 litres).

I have always tried to be more thrifty with water, and in the city I live in it is easy to be held accountable for my consumption because I get a water bill. There in black and white is my usage measured in cubic meters. Usually I am rather frugal with the H2O. I hand wash dishes, I only do full loads of laundry twice a week, I don’t leave water running and I usually turn the water pressure down so that less water is being wasted when I turn on the tap. I also have rain barrels outside. Over this past summer though I had an atrociously high water bill from watering my veggie garden. My consumption jumped up to 84561 litres/84.56 cubic meters. I was horrified! I pay $1.15 a cubic meter in and $.97 a cubic meter out (by the way, the water company calculates the out going water at about 90% of your incoming). Receiving this bill was the point that opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to get more aggressive with my water saving tactics. Next year we are going to install a more efficient irrigation system and I am looking at the possibility of mulching techniques to reduce evaporation. I also am hoping for a more efficient laundry suite. *Looks over at husband *Hint Hint Nudge Nudge. 

There is one new thing I do in our household that actually does use more water. I use a sprayer hooked up to my incoming water valve on the toilet to wash my backside after using the toilet. It is like a poor man’s bidet. Now the reason for this is not just about improved hygiene but about lessening the toilet paper I use and flush. Using less toilet paper means less biosolids that will need to be dealt with. If you don’t know what biosolids are and how Canada deals with it, I have one word for you… HUMANURE. Don’t believe me? http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/earth-day-is-sewage-sludge-safe-for-farm-fields-1.2606919 I was appalled when I found out. That seems like such a third world concern.

I’ve been  making changes slowly so that they stick. I do not want to be overwhelmed by my lifestyle choices in my quest to live more gently, but I realize every little thing I change for the better is making a collective difference. I think that deserves a pat on the back or at least a figurative gold star for effort.

There are many places around the world suffering from a lack of water and to me it seems silly to waste a resource just because I have an abundance of it. I mean really, how irresponsible  is it that we use clean drinking water to flush our toilets?


5 thoughts on “Dirty Secrets You Cannot Wash Away

  1. Good post, gives me a few things to think about when I go about creating the permanent plumbing system out here at Walden Puddle. I was already thinking about a separate grey water septic/holding tank that could be used to water the garden, but what about running it through the toilets? Perhaps with some screening, and a selector valve that would allow me to switch over to clean water on the queens birthday etc. Much to think about.

    Thanks for following,


    • I am glad that the article was thought provoking. So far I am very pleased with my little bucket to catch grey water from the sink for toilet use. I have seen numerous DIY grey water toilet sink combos, I even found a video on Youtube for diverting the clean water used to fill the toilet reservoir tank to come out of a sink built on top of the tank and get directed back to fill the toilet bowl. The thought of cold water to wash my hands is not appealing but what the guy in the video plumbed up really was remarkable. I cannot wait to read more of your adventures at Walden Puddle.
      I hope to get more of our homestead projects written about in the near future. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  2. we actually have to ensure that we don’t reuse our grey water or the septic tank won’t work properly… you can ask the hubband about his stories when you’re out!

    while I was thinking about homesteading grey water reuse was one thing I was contemplating. If you make your own laundry detergent with stuff you can use in your garden you can just switch the drain to go directly to your irrigation system.

    I used to make a fantastic one with Fels Naptha soap, Borax, and Washing Soda. You can also scent with essential oils. All three of the main ingredients are indicated for gardening use and in the amounts required on a per load basis they are negligible for the volume of water. Also, super inexpensive laundry soap!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fels Naptha is okay for the garden? I think we totally make the same laundry soap!!!! We are on public water and public sewage so I flush the toilet with grey water year round. We also PAY for all the water that comes into our house so using less actually is measured! I want to set up my next house use more grey water for gardening. I feel bad letting slightly used water go down the drain. I was even more horrified when I found out where the solids we flush down our toilet go. They are going up to Merritt and being spread on land in a water shed area!!! We cannot wait to talk homesteading with you both!


  3. Pingback: How Dirty Girls Get Clean | shamelesshousewife

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