Today I heard about a neat company almost right in my back yard, they are called Dirtball. This company is located in Hickory, NC and produces clothing from recycled cotton scraps and recycled plastic water bottles. They are also 100% manufactured here in the USA and uses 100% recycled materials. What struck me about them was that they had an innovative product that looked good and American made for quite reasonable prices. It certainly isn’t going to beat out an Old Navy, but in many cases we are talking $10-$20 more for something that is better quality, sustainable, and ethically made.
Most people living in the average American household have no reason to contemplate the transfer, collection and disposal of the water that enters and leaves their homes. I certainly had never considered such things until Cedric and I went volunteering on organic farms. In the south of Spain, we spent time at Tierra Roja, a small olive farm where water is scarce for much of the year and any rain that falls is caught, stored and carefully used. They were watering their flower garden with the water from their sinks and showers so not a drop was wasted. It was the first time I’d ever seen a greywater system in action. As aquifers run dry and water becomes a scarcer resource, I see the proper recycling of it essential to transitioning our treatment of water to a more sustainable system and tiny house dwellers are on the front lines of this transition.
Living in a tiny house we have had to face the challenge of disposing our water safely since we weren’t hooked up to the city’s system. Our initial introduction at that farm inspired us to try a simple, DIY system that would use our greywater to irrigate a small garden. We took 1 1/2″ pvc pipe, attached it to the plumbing of the house and buried it in the garden. Since we didn’t put in a filter we did not put any solids of any kind down the drain. We also carefully chose our bath soaps, used homemade shampoos and biodegradable dish soap so as not to damage the soil, plants or watershed. I wish we had taken pictures of the process but all I have is the evidence in this picture of extremely happy banana trees!
The majority of folks don’t think twice about these things and it’s wonderfully convenient to not have to. However, I’ve learned a lot about sustainable water practices by living with this system and I prefer it to sending this precious resource to a facility with black water where it becomes much more polluted and takes a lot of energy to introduce safely back in to the water cycle. It’s also a major plus for dry environments that see little rainfall and who at times must rely on their aquifers for water, as we experienced in Spain.
To sustain and maintain these deep fonts of water we need to replenish them. Allowing greywater to be filtered by plants back in to the ground recharges the aquifers and keeps them from drying out. The beauty of greywater systems is they can be incredible simple to construct, use and maintain. The collaborative group Greywater Action For A Sustainable Water Culture is an incredible resource not only for learning to construct and maint these systems, they also have a wealth of information on composting toilets, rainwater catchment and pedal-powered washing machines!
As we prepare to move La Casita once again, we plan to build a more elaborate system that can withstand the Vermont winters. The Greywater Action website also has great reviews of projects and useful tips for winterizing these systems. In the South it was much easier to manage it and although it will be more of a challenge it is another opportunity to learn and create a regenerative system. I’ll be posting details of our next greywater project so check-in with the tiny life over the next few weeks to see the details of construction!
Have any tips on water disposal in a tiny house?
How do you feel about the current disposal and treatment of water?
Do you think greywater systems are viable project towards changing how we think about water disposal?
I just ran across this and thought it was not only entertaining, but has to do with green building and recycling! The GAP is taking old jeans and turning them into denim insulation (ultratouch) for those in need in our communities. From the 6th to the 20th bring in your used, worn, ripped jeans and turn them in for 30% off some new jeans. I don’t know if they have to be GAP branded jeans (update: It looks like they don’t, see store for details) you turn in or just any jeans, but I think it is pretty neat.
Note: If you have a GAP credit card they will give you an additional 5% off
So I saw this today and it had such character and the reuse and re purposing of these materials is so neat I had to share. As most of us know, wine is often fermented in wooden barrels. Typically these barrels are oak, often from french oak trees, but what I didn’t realize is that they only last about 10 years and cost around $1000 a barrel! So this company takes the barrels which are often sold for rather cheap, straightens them out, mills then and the installs as wood flooring.