Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Maybe my late blog gives me away, but 2016 has started out a little rough.

My first night in the container house was December 23rd…. my first day of running water was 2 days ago.  The 2 weeks in the middle were a little more like squatting in my own house than living in it.  I had been hauling water by the bucket (which I understand is a reality for many people) and showering at my parents’ house.  It wasn’t luxurious, but i gained a lot of perspective in that time.

The majority of us, in the western world, have ample access to clean, running water, mostly right in our very homes.  This is a privilege I can honestly say that in the past, I have absolutely taken for granted.  This experience has prompted me to do some research and look into all the ways we can better use that water, and waste as little as possible.  By doing this we can be respectful of our planet, the global water crisis and communities without such luxuries, as well as being humble first world citizens.

A large portion of unnecessarily wasted water is “Grey Water”. It is the water from our sinks (including dishwater), bathtubs and laundry machines that is not totally unsanitary and could be used again for purposes other than direct consumption.  Think of the places where we use fresh water where it is not required, toilets and gardens for example (these are the big ones in my house).

Disconnecting the j trap under the sinks and allowing the water to run into a bucket is an easy way to save your grey water for repurposing.  It may require a watchful eye to make sure your bucket doesn’t overflow, but being mindful is the name of the game, non? From there you can dump that water in the tank or bowl of your toilet to flush it.  Toilets are responsible for 31% of overall household water consumption.  You could stand to save 31% of your water bill, couldn’t you?

Plants and gardens are also a big one for me.  I love gardening and have many houseplants that at one point i was watering with fresh water until i learned about the grey water method.  As long as you are using environmentally-friendly soaps, dishwater and bathwater are perfectly fine for your plants and gardens (actually they might even be better for them!).  I found a great instructable that shows the easy way that the author rigged her laundry washing machine to drain out to spaghetti lines that water her garden.
But it doesn’t have to be a plumbing project, saving grey water can be as easy as showering with the plug in and scooping it out later.

Besides grey water, the same methods can be used with harvested rain water or snow melt.  If you were raised at the lake, like me then these are probably all methods you have used or at least heard of before.  I didn’t, but could have mentioned the old, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow…”…

Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Used Shipping Containers: Things to Consider

Currently there is an excess amount of unused shipping containers sitting in harbours all around the world.  Couple that with the new trend of resourcefully building tiny homes using typically unconventional house-building materials and voila! Shipping container homes everywhere.  (Read “A History of Shipping Container Architecture” here.)FullSizeRender-2Obviously, if they’re good for building homes, they are good for building lots of other structures as well.  In the Netherlands they use them to build bus stations, people all over the world have converted them into shops and offices, Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park has adopted 2 containers as their new washroom facilities ( and obviously they can be used for storage.

If you have use for a shipping container, here are some things to consider before you buy:

    • Depending on your plans, the look of the container might be important to you.  One thing I was surprised to learn was that shipping containers have hardwood flooring.  If your intent is to build a summer/lake house or you live somewhere where you don’t need insulated floors, you could easily clean up the hardwood and it would look awesome! If this is the case you would need to carefully inspect the floor of the container before you buy to look for dings from cargo or forklifts. But like bonus! Free hardwood floor!


    • Don’t buy anything you haven’t seen in person. Always schedule time to go check out the container.  When viewing it make sure your salesperson can guarantee the unit is watertight and look for signs of water inside.  This might be scary but go inside the container and have someone fully close the doors so you can look for light, if you see light holes the container is not watertight and you don’t want it.


    • These containers are built to have a 20 year life aboard freight ships on the rolling sea, when stationary they are considered to have what is called an “infinite life span”.  My point is that they’re freaking tough and they don’t have to be shiny and new to be a good deal.  Rust, dings and dents on a container are perfectly okay as long as they don’t compromise the stability and structure of the unit.  However, deep corrosion, warped frames and extensive patchwork is not okay.


    • The other considerable thing about containers is that they’re heavy.  Very heavy.  Because of this and therefor the labour and machinery involved, depending on where you live, the delivery might be more expensive than the container itself.  (If the same company you bought from is doing your delivery, always try to haggle a deal, you will always do better than the initial rate.)


  • Most used containers you will see have loads of stickers and logos on them, as well as serial numbers. By doing some research you can find out what the container was used to ship.  This could also aid in your decision to buy or pass on the container.
    I found out that one of my containers used to be the property of Hyundai, I can deduce that it was probably used to move cars or car parts.  However, you probably wouldn’t want to buy one used to ship chemicals, for example. Remnants of the container’s past could pose a health hazard as they may not be cleaned before being put on the market.
    A friend of mine was all set up to buy a container she found online, but upon viewing it she had a sense (of the olfactic kind) the unit was very obviously used to move fish.  Needless to say she passed on the fishy container.

Now that container architecture is so popular, so are container sales businesses. And some, like the containers themselves, are better than others.  Like buying/selling anything you just have to use your common sense, do lots of research and know what to ask and look for.

Used Shipping Containers: Things to Consider