Since water is one of our most precious resources—and certainly our most needed—it is imperative to not only be smart about our water consumption, but also reuse and repurpose our water where we can.
Investing in a rain barrel is a great way to repurpose rainwater in and around your home. You can use rainwater to:
- Water houseplants and outdoor plants and flowers
- Wash your car
- Wash your bikes
- Water your lawn
- Wash your pets
- Wash your windows
- Water your garden
The easiest way to recycle rain water is to purchase a rain barrel and divert your downspouts to drain into the barrel. A 55 gallon barrel hold 440 pounds of water! You can also make your own rain barrel with a little time and ingenuity. Make sure that your rain barrel has a filter or screen at the top to remove debris, and also a spigot at the bottom where you can attach a hose or drip system.
A Community Celebration
We were floored at the creative community collaboration between Philadelphia Water and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society when they provided free rain barrels to qualifying organizations through their Wrapped Rain Barrel Program. These limited edition barrels come wrapped with student artwork (after a community wide art submission and voting!) The project was not only a community win but educational.
Things to Consider
Many towns offer incentives, free barrels or rebates (Southern California starts with a $75 rebate.) Before installing a rain barrel, make sure to check with your state to see if there are regulations about having a rain barrel. Believe it or not, it is illegal in some states to collect rain water. You can check out the why’s of this process at the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
In the past there has been some debate over whether or not rain water is safe to use on edible plants and food gardens. A study conducted by scientists in Australia found that rain barrel water is safe to use on most edible plants. If this is a concern for you, we highly recommend reading more about the study and findings on Sightline Institute’s website.
Regardless of what you will use the water for, recycling water via rain barrels is a great way to help the environment, streams and a completely do-able weekend project. Happy watering!