This house is pretty unique in many ways, it was designed to be part of a cluster of houses, so it’s bathroom and kitchen functions would be located outside of this house. The designer wanted to integrate the natural surroundings so he truncated the polyhedron to create a floor to ceiling wall of glass.
Most people living in the average American household have no reason to contemplate the transfer, collection and disposal of the water that enters and leaves their homes. I certainly had never considered such things until Cedric and I went volunteering on organic farms. In the south of Spain, we spent time at Tierra Roja, a small olive farm where water is scarce for much of the year and any rain that falls is caught, stored and carefully used. They were watering their flower garden with the water from their sinks and showers so not a drop was wasted. It was the first time I’d ever seen a greywater system in action. As aquifers run dry and water becomes a scarcer resource, I see the proper recycling of it essential to transitioning our treatment of water to a more sustainable system and tiny house dwellers are on the front lines of this transition.
Living in a tiny house we have had to face the challenge of disposing our water safely since we weren’t hooked up to the city’s system. Our initial introduction at that farm inspired us to try a simple, DIY system that would use our greywater to irrigate a small garden. We took 1 1/2″ pvc pipe, attached it to the plumbing of the house and buried it in the garden. Since we didn’t put in a filter we did not put any solids of any kind down the drain. We also carefully chose our bath soaps, used homemade shampoos and biodegradable dish soap so as not to damage the soil, plants or watershed. I wish we had taken pictures of the process but all I have is the evidence in this picture of extremely happy banana trees!
The majority of folks don’t think twice about these things and it’s wonderfully convenient to not have to. However, I’ve learned a lot about sustainable water practices by living with this system and I prefer it to sending this precious resource to a facility with black water where it becomes much more polluted and takes a lot of energy to introduce safely back in to the water cycle. It’s also a major plus for dry environments that see little rainfall and who at times must rely on their aquifers for water, as we experienced in Spain.
To sustain and maintain these deep fonts of water we need to replenish them. Allowing greywater to be filtered by plants back in to the ground recharges the aquifers and keeps them from drying out. The beauty of greywater systems is they can be incredible simple to construct, use and maintain. The collaborative group Greywater Action For A Sustainable Water Culture is an incredible resource not only for learning to construct and maint these systems, they also have a wealth of information on composting toilets, rainwater catchment and pedal-powered washing machines!
As we prepare to move La Casita once again, we plan to build a more elaborate system that can withstand the Vermont winters. The Greywater Action website also has great reviews of projects and useful tips for winterizing these systems. In the South it was much easier to manage it and although it will be more of a challenge it is another opportunity to learn and create a regenerative system. I’ll be posting details of our next greywater project so check-in with the tiny life over the next few weeks to see the details of construction!
Have any tips on water disposal in a tiny house?
How do you feel about the current disposal and treatment of water?
Do you think greywater systems are viable project towards changing how we think about water disposal?
Recently I was on Huffington Post Live with several other awesome tiny house people. Dan Louche, Gregory Johnson, Logan Smith and myself were interviewed by Jacob about tiny houses in an online segment. The interview was a lot of fun and we got the word out about tiny houses, but what I think was the best part was the conversations we had before and after the segment that happened off the camera.
Collectively the group had a few decades of experience with tiny houses and all of us have tiny houses. So the conversation was really interesting. We talked about the movement, workshops, etc. Check out the video below.
I found this gem today, it’s a 180 square foot loft apartment that is lived in by two New Yorkers. The place features a ton of shelves for all their books, a nice looking bathroom, a decent sized kitchen and a small reading and meditation nook. While there are some modern flairs to this space, the warm wood tones make it feel very cozy and homey.