1 Simple Shift: Collect Rainwater

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1simpleshift-logo EDITOR’S NOTE: On a regular basis (not exactly daily, but pretty close), I try to be conscious about making a change, however small, to make my life greener. Most of them are incredibly simple and literally just require shifting your point of view, and sometimes your spending, to more sustainable alternatives. The “1 Simple Shift” series offer tips about changes I’ve made (or that I’m still doing my best to make).

Today’s shift: Collect rainwater.

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks. Well, I’m happy to report we’ve been moving into our own place, finally. Between my husband and I, we managed to get it all done between bouts of rainfall. Unlike many in the metro Atlanta area, we were spared of the devastating flooding that claimed so many homes and lives last week.

Watching nature at work like that with rain pouring down on the Earth (and into the creek behind our building) reminded me of something we’ve been wanting to do for a while: set up a rainwater catchment system.

I learned via David over at The Good Human that, in some states, it is actually illegal to catch rainwater. I can’t understand the logic behind those antiquated laws, but I’m happy to say it is legal in most states.

If you own your own home, rainwater catchment can mean setting up a rain barrel system that will divert the water moving through your gutters and spouts into containers that will hold it for future use. But if, like my family, you live in an apartment, it can simply mean setting a container (ie. bucket, extra plastic storage container or even a clean, unused trash can) on your back patio or any uncovered space available for your use to collect water during rainfall. You can then use it to water plants, wash dishes, wash clothes…whatever you want.

Back in the Virgin Islands, where I’m from, most homes come equipped with cisterns built under the building that is designed to catch rainwater via the gutters. They’d come in really handy after hurricanes when we would sometimes go months without electricity or water from the city. You don’t have to build a cistern, but anyone can get a rain bucket, and use it.

So make 1 Simple Shift. Capture rainwater and use it for tasks like watering plants, washing the car, or even washing the dishes or doing laundry. Your water bill will thank you.

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4 responses
  • Denene@MyBrownBaby September 28, 2009, 1:16 pm

    I love it—what a great idea! I didn’t think to put buckets/barrels out to catch the rainwater, but I did put all my plants outside last week so they could get that good rain water on them. It’s amazing how much they bloom and sprout and come alive when plain ol’ rainwater is used. Next time, I’ll spare myself the plant dragging, and catch the water to bring to the inside.
    .-= Denene@MyBrownBaby´s last blog ..My Little Glamour Dolls and Their Pink Polish =-.

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  • deana - green with glamour September 29, 2009, 9:08 am

    Jennae, I’m SO impressed! You have completely inspired me to do the same. Though it doesn’t rain here in Los Angeles a whole lot during most of the year… winter does have it’s rainy days – and I shall be collecting rainwater! Good luck with the move – new spaces are so exciting!

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  • jennae October 1, 2009, 5:05 pm

    @Denene I’ve read that rainwater is much better for plants than tap water because all the tap water additives can harm the plants. And they really do turn a lot greener after rain.

    @deana I love hearing that! If nothing else, you can use a small bucket or basin and collect whatever does fall :)

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