“Drinking water will be soon the most precious resource of the planet,” states Jeanne Massé in the beginning of her Huffington Post article focusing on water recycling. Concurring with this idea, I followed 7 simple tips to recycle water at home. The results astonished me!

Prior to going green, recycling was not a word that I associated with water. Yet the week when I focused on conserving water at home, I learned about many little things that I could do to recycle water at home. I thus decided that once I have a solid foundation in conserving water, I would dedicate a full week to taking my water-saving to another level through water recycling.

1) Use a shower bucket

One often has to wait quite a while before the running water warms up to shower. Our household is no exception. I measured it at home and had to wait 18 seconds before I could use the water to shower. Following the suggestion of Sustainable Baby Steps, I put buckets into our two showers in order to reuse the warm-up water. Again, my scientific spirit led me to count the quantity of water. I realised that during 18 seconds, I let about 3 litres water run into the drain…

Considering that I take an average of 3 showers per week, this adds up to 468 litres per year. It’s the same for my husband, so this adds up to almost 1 cubic meter of clean water just wasted in a year! This is also inefficient from an energy point of view. As Matthew Sparkers states in his Treehugger post, “Processing and serving us water uses between 2 and 3% of all electricity in the UK, and creates 0.5% of our carbon emissions.” I doubt that the numbers are very different for France. Daily consumption of tap water per person in France amounts to 140 litres according to Jeanne Massé.

Various sources suggest reusing the water for plants. However, as our warm water is softened, I decided to use the water I put aside from my shower for kids’ bath water. Plants do not like softened water.

My aim was also to be green as to the buckets that I use. I found one of these in my cellar, gathering dust. The other bucket I needed to buy, but instead of plastic, I invested in a metal one. It is also presented in one of the featured photos of this post.

2) Reuse water to wash hands as grey water for the toilet

I decided to put a bowl inside my kitchen sink, as also suggested by Sustainable Baby Steps. The other side of the sink I use as an intermediate step in recycling coffee made with my French press.

Bowl in a sink for water recycling

I used this bowl to collect water after washing hands, then used this grey water for flushing the toilet. Yet as mentioned by Conserve Energy Future, this water could also be utilised “to water plants, herbs or shrubs. The water can also be used to clean the floors, toilets or even bathrooms.” What astonished me during this week was seeing how much water we use in the kitchen, despite our conservation efforts. However, I was happy to see that thanks to the little steps we put in place last week, our use of clean water for flushing the toilet diminished by nearly half!

3) Save water from cooking pasta and vegetables

This was another suggestion that I introduced into our life. I have not yet tried to make soup out of this nutrient-full boiled water, as proposed by both Sustainable Baby Steps and Conserve Energy Future. I use this water (like the water from washing hands) as grey water for flushing the toilets.

4) Save water from washing salad and veggies

My good friend Maya inspired me to use the water from washing salad and veggies for watering my indoor plants. As I use cold water, it is not softened and is great for plants. I have a little watering can in the kitchen for my indoor flowers. Now I fill it with the water that remains in a bowl after washing the vegetables.

5) Reuse leftover drinking water that is poured into glasses

After the meal, I often find that quite few of the cups on the table still contain water. Reusing this water is also on the list of tips for water recycling by Conserve Energy Future. I decided to recycle this water the same way I reuse water from washing veggies for my plants at home. Sometimes I water my plants directly from the cup.

using water poured to glass for water recycling

Or if they have been watered recently, I collect the water into my little watering can.

6) Use kids bath water as grey water

Rare exceptions aside, to conserve water we bathe our three musketeers together twice or sometimes even once per week. My favourite list on water conservation by Sustainable Baby Steps supports this approach: “Bathe young children together. They’ll have fun splashing and you’ll save buckets of water.” This is so true, although we have to slow down the splashing part – our bathtub is situated in the middle of the bathroom and otherwise our house would be turned into an ocean 🙂

Three little boys preparing to have a bath together to reduce water waste

I grew up sharing a weekly bath or sauna with my siblings, without having any skin issues. I also use part of this water for flushing the toilets.

7) Look into installing a grey water system at home

Using bowls and buckets is all fine, but it does take a little extra effort and cannot be well applied by little children—unless one is happy to have constant flooding around😊 Sometimes one just forgets, and water from the dishwasher, shower and washing machine cannot be really reused with my manual systems. I thus decided to look into how much it would cost us to have a system installed to capture and recycle grey water. According to Axel Leclercq’s blog post, such installation would cost between 600- 1000 euros in France. We will thus look into this option in the future.

Conserve Energy Future writes about such installation: “This system saves up to around 35% of the water that one would otherwise flush out in the drain. It is connected to the home’s plumbing system. It works in such a way that it automatically treats used water from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry rooms for reuse.”

Holistic Wellness

Many things that I implemented last week were what my grandparents used to do. As discussed in my blog article on greener commuting, in many ways the transition toward a more sustainable lifestyle is about going BACK to green for me. It is about going back to the ways that I grew up living, connecting with my past and ancestors. It feels so good!

I am inspired by Alexandra Piedoux’s writing about the pillars of holistic wellness. I not only believe that my environmental wellness has been empowered, but I feel that all other pillars of my well-being—physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, and financial—have greatly benefited from my transition towards more eco-friendly lifestyle.