Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

Greywater really is grey


Greywater use at its best: Water from the sink is directed to the garden.

Greywater use at its best: Water from the sink on the farm is directed to the garden.

One thing that really attracted me to this farm in Sardinia, Italy, was the farmers’ commitment to sustainable living. I’ve volunteered on 10 farms since starting this adventure in May 2011, and of those that claimed to be sustainable, only three truly were. (Three making the claim definitely were not.)

Among the sustainability initiatives in Sardinia are cooking with fire, cleaning with ash, limited electricity and water consumption, a commitment to local foods, use of compost toilets, and organic gardening. All of these are great, but my favorite of the initiatives is the greywater use. When we use the sink or shower in the house, we collect the water in buckets and use that for flushing the toilet. Even water from washing vegetables, cooking pasta or washing clothing in the sink goes to toilet use. How have I not thought of doing this before now?!

Back in my suburban-living days, I put a bucket under the faucet to collect the water that ran while I waited for the shower to warm up. I used this as water for my cats and my container garden. People thought I was weird, but I thought wasting that water was irresponsible and unnecessary. I can only imagine what will be said about me when I start collecting water for toilet flushing.

The only downside I see to this system is that greywater is actually the color grey, and the buckets get funky pretty quickly. I think this problem can be avoided if you are more careful about the type of greywater you save, but apart from that, you can rig a system to divert greywater for different uses and not have to see it at all. I even know about organizations that teach people to do this themselves. So many things I want to learn, so little time to do all the writing assignments necessary to pay for them all!


  1. Great blog, Lisa! One of the ways we use grey water is from our washing machine-the water goes into a holding tank to be used on our garden boxes. I plant only as much as our grey water supply can support..

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