Dishing Washing Insight and Recycling

I had an experience. And I thought it might be relevant to you. It has to do with when I was doing the dishes just this late afternoon. I was doing the dishes and it occurred to me: if I’m putting the hot water into a sink, and then the soap, and then mixing it with the soap and throwing in the dishes and all the other junk, and then washing it away, where’s all this going?

Image credit:

Image credit:

It occurred to me that this is probably a very pervasive feeling and thought for other people. But this can be applied to other areas. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean the fact that individuals that use things will tend to be using them thoughtlessly, and I am no different than most of others, or others that aren’t even in this kind of movement.


I missed the very obvious fact that anything that I use will tend to be used in other areas by other people and they themselves will not necessarily know where it goes, why it’s used, and what happens to it. How mindful are we in using and consuming resources that the planet provides?

So here are ways we can recycle water at home:

1. Use a Shower Bucket

The shower bucket is probably the simplest way to recycle water at home. When you turn on the tap for your shower, the water that comes out takes some time to heat up to a comfortable temperature. Next time you’re warming up the shower, stick a bucket under the running tap until you’re ready to get in. You’ll be surprised at how much water you collect!

2. Install a Rain Barrel

Skip that whole municipal water system for watering your garden and collect rainwater instead. Rain barrel setups can be super simple or more complicated, depending on how much time you can invest and how handy you are. The best collection method that I’ve found is setting up the barrel underneath your gutter’s downspout, so it collects the most water when it rains.

3. Create a Rain Garden


Rain gardens take advantage of land’s natural water runoff to nourish the plants that live there. Unlike a regular garden that needs watering, a rain garden is constructed so that it reuses water that would otherwise run off into the sewage systems. The bonus is that by diverting that water from the storm drain, you’re giving your city’s overtaxes sewage system a break.

4. Save that Pasta Water

Next time you’re making a pot of pasta, don’t dump all of that precious water down the drain! Instead, set your colander over another large pot to collect all of that precious H2O. Once the water has cooled, you can use it on your garden or to water your house plants.

5. Save Water from Washing Veggies

Just like when you’re boiling pasta, washing veggies uses water that’s totally re-usable. Place your colander over a large pot to collect the water while you’re washing. You can use your collected water on the garden or for flushing the toilet.

6. Install a Gray Water System

Gray water is waste water that doesn’t contain sewage. Think the water that goes down the drain when you wash your hands or do laundry. A gray water system diverts that water, so it doesn’t go to waste. A good example might be diverting water from your shower drain for flushing the toilet. Grey water systems can get pretty complicated, and just like any plumbing setup, they do require maintenance.

7. Collect the Overflow from Watering Plants

When you water your potted plants, have you noticed that extra water usually runs out of those drainage holes at the bottom of the pot? Don’t let that water go to waste! Place your plants in deep trays to collect that water. You can use the runoff from your larger plants to water the smaller ones.

8. Reuse Excess Drinking Water

Got an almost-empty water glass that’s been sitting out too long to drink? Feed it to a thirsty house plant instead! You can also use unsweet tea on your plants. If the drink that’s been sitting is sweetened, you can pour it on plants in the garden, but don’t use it on house plants unless you like ants!


Our consumption patterns relate to one another in very different ways, but the consumption patterns can be unsustainable. So, it was a moment that actually made me pause and stop washing the damn cutting knife (no cuts!), but, even so, this can hopefully be a little bit of a cutting insight.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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