5.14.2009

Grey is the New Green


"Green" is everywhere, it seems: why, I personally have attended eight green economy gatherings in the last 30 days, and that doesn't even include the Greenworks Philadelphia release that I missed but blogged on.

"Green" is often pitted against "grey," i.e. we would rather "green" a street with trees than leave it grey with drab pavement. But one aspect of "grey" is good to the "green" crowd, which is greywater. Which is why I was glad to see Governing Magazine cover the topic in its recent issue: "Shades of Greywater."

This reminds me of how my dad runs the shower water into a bucket while it's getting warm and then uses that water to flush the toilet. Greywater advocates go a step further, and figure out ingenious ways to recycle shower, bathroom sink, and washing machine water to water their plants and wash their cars.

In some places, jerry-rigging your plumbing to facilitate this is not only not encouraged but illegal. But some cities are starting to get out of the way and let the innovators innovate. And I'm eagerly following what our hallowed Philadelphia Water Department is doing in terms of treating water as the precious resource that it is, notably in terms of distributing rain barrels as well as helping developers plan and build in ways that minimize water waste.

"Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink"? Hopefully not. But we do need to break ourselves of ways, individually and structurally, that we squander our water. And diverting some of it for positive use instead of letting it literally go down the drain would seem to be something we should want to encourage, not make illegal.
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