Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is simply a process of collecting, storing, and later using precipitation. There are many different ways to succeed in rain capture and different uses for your captured water.

Rain capture can be as simple as hooking a drum barrel to your house gutters and using the water for your garden or as complex as burying a tank in your yard to use gray water in your whole house.

Connecting barrels to your house rain gutters is a very quick and simple process and the benefits can be astonishing depending on how many barrels you have. Here's an example of a "pretty" version of a single barrel. The gutter connects at the top of the barrel through a cut slot, and the water is usually filtered through a screen (for leaves and twigs and things). Typically, you also want to have an angled runoff pipe. This will allow the excess water from alot of rain to slowly leak from the barrel so that the water does not back up into your gutter. You also will need to install a spigot to connect a hose to fill a watering can.

If you typically receive a lot of rain and one barrel will not be enough for your area, you can make a series of connected barrels. Instead of having a excess runoff pipe in the first barrel, your runoff pipe connects directly to the second barrel - and if needed in runoff pipe from the second barrels can connect directly to the third and so on as long as your last barrel has a regular runoff pipe still. Then each of your barrels gets its own spigot.

Here's how it would look to connect multiple barrels.
The benefits can be overwhelming from rain capture. Unless you have a well on your property and only pay for the electric for the pump - you probably pay for incoming city water, and then you pay for that water a second time in your sewer water fee. What a financial waste!

Here's the kicker - most of that water waste is from toilets, laundry, filling swimming pools, washing your car, and watering your garden and flowers. Water that you can harvest from your impervious surfaces can be used for these purposes!

This is what a tank might look like when using the water for these purposes. This system would cost you around $1500
Here's an example of an entire system in place. The pipes are a little harder to see, but if you look hard, you can follow them throughout the entire system.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obtaining Recycled Glass

I was recently asked where someone might be able to find glass to be reused. And well, I'd love to ask this question in its many subcategories as finding glass to reuse greatly depends on what you are reusing it for. First, let me say - glass is infinitely recyclable to make new glass products as long as no contaminants are present.

To relate to a recent post about cold frames, glass in the form of windows old or new can be found at many very accessible locations.

  • Go to the reuse store at landfills, your local salvage shop, Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. They have almost every building material then is reusable.
  • The first place to check is the dump. Many dumps sort incoming building materials and sell them for reuse or have "swap shops" where you can just take them. They can do this because it's less they have to transport to the actual landfill. Now, understand that the windows you find at the dump will very rarely and almost never be in perfect condition. No one throws away new windows, but they are perfect to sit outside in the sun and insulated your all season garden.
  • The next best place to look is yard sales! Many people replace their own windows, especially if they are only doing a few and don't know what to do with their old windows. Also, sometimes the wrong size windows are purchased and not able to be returned to the store because of damage caused by trying to install them and taking them back down or missing parts. Usually people will then try to sell them on their own.
  • Referring to my post on the Scrap House: you can find windows by speaking with the site manager or a building owner for a skyscraper in your nearest city. When building sky scrapers, architects usually buy 5% extra glass in case of breakage (31 story building = up to 200 extra windows)
  • Post a want on Freecycle for old or used never know what people have stashed in their garages!
If you are looking for glass for crafting project like making mosaics, you will have to tap somewhat different resources.
  • Freecycle is one of the best places to look. Post a want for colorful glass - you will probably want to ask for chipped or broken china, empty wine bottle, marbles, tile, broken or small mirrors, sea glass, etc.
  • Mirror/Glass/Tile stores. Ask if you can have their broken glass/tile scraps, provide them with a plastic bin you would like filled and when or how often you will pick it up. Most stores will be okay with this as they most likely pay to haul their trash.

Still have questions? Leave a comment and I'll gladly update this post with an answer.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Hi everyone! As you may have heard, the semester, my final semester has come to an end- but this blog will not. This blog does not have a shelf life and will therefore be continuing - expanding - evolving.

Over the next few days or weeks maybe I will be revamping this blog into a more broad spectrum of REpurposing!

I plan on focusing on the various possibilities and methods of repurposing items including sections on:
Household interior items
Household outdoor repurposing projects
Craft/just4fun repurposing projects.

I will also be including links to websites I find helpful with instructions and/or pictures of projects or ideas. Also of completed projects I have found online that are of interest to me and hopefully you also. I will also include information, and pictures on projects I have completed or am working on.

I also plan to open the blog to advertising for companies that allow for donations of reusable building materials and/or sell used building materials. I haven't forgotten about those who create to sell handmade items, yet strictly adhere to being repurposers- you're advertisement are also welcome! If you are interested in advertising-please email me for pricing info.

I hope that you will continue to follow this blog and grow with us as we continue our journey.

I welcome your ideas, your suggestions and your feedback.