Now that we have an irrigation system up and running, the challenge was to find a way to use water from the washing machine – especially as it runs every day cleaning nappies. Again, being renters, we can’t retrofit a grey-water recycling system, or even cut a hole for piping to get outside from the laundry. Also, our laundry is at the rear of the house but the majority of the garden, including the vegies and the irrigation system, is at the front. Our solution: buckets. We now have three buckets in the wash-trough catching washing machine water. What overflows the buckets goes down the drain, except on rare occasions when I happen past the laundry between the wash and the rinse cycles and empty the first round of buckets in time to also catch the rinse water.
Initial cost: 10L buckets cost $2 each. We supplemented our existing supply with another four.
Initial time: 5 minutes a couple of times over while we figured out the best bucket configuration. (For the record, letting the whole wash trough fill and overflow into the overflow holes means the washing machine stops draining once the pipe-end is in the water. We have a front-loader. Messy.)
Ongoing time or cost commitment: Ten minutes per day emptying buckets of water – shorter when all the water goes into the irrigation; longer when some of it is distributed to the pots and plants in the rear courtyard. However, we no longer spend any time watering with a hose, so it evens out.
Impact: Each day approximately 10L of baby bath water + 20L shower water + 30L laundry water is put to good use rather than going down the drains (that’s a whopping 22kL of water saved every year!).