Friday, March 9, 2012



For a while I have thought of trying to do something about the sheer absurdity of flushing huge amounts of water down the kitchen sink - perfectly usable water whether it is from rinsing vegetables, washing dal, washing dishes by hand or even water from the dishwasher - while at the same time using clean water to irrigate.

The right-wing American approach would be to send other people's children out to attack Canada in the name of liberating them, and then build a pipeline from Hudson Bay to LA. [Want an excuse? Canada produces almost all of the world's Co60 which is used for treating cancer. The source is supposedly under repair, but Canada refuses UN inspections and is suspected of trying to develop a Co60 dirty thermonuclear bio-weapon terrorist bomb. Diplomacy has not worked, 3 Israeli cancer patients may die soon so the Knesset may authorize Mossad to bomb the facility.] Just think of all the jobs that War and Peace would create, and finally water-independency for LA so that Orange County is no longer dependent on crazy-arse gay-rights advocating NorCal tin-pot mayors for their God-given right to water.

The ObuDemocratMama approach would be to develop "alternate water" - something that you could carry around with you and when needed just add water and hey! Presto! you get InstaWater (C)! This would be achieved by giving PanIndra half billion dollars to develop their idea of cylindrical glass tube water evaporators and to set up a evaporated water manufacturing facility in the South Bay. Unfortunately, the only thing that will evaporate is the money.

Note that there is discussion of conservation - banning alfalfa farming, golf, or lawns.

So here is something I thought I could do personally -as one of those ingenious middle class American private individuals, BUSH's thousand points of light, take initiative into your own hands- to avert global warming, save trees, reduce my carbon footprint, salve my conscience. (Breathlessly and earnestly in school child voice: "If every American household were to implement this scheme it would save THOUSANDS of gallons of fresh water!" Really? Save the Earth!)

Coffee, banana peel, grapefruit peel and broccoli stems.

Banana peel down the hatch.

Broccoli stems down!

Coffee grounds gone.

Grapefruit peel down the food disposal.

The plumbing, the transparent hose takes it outside ...

... to PVC tube ...

which carries it across the patio ...

... and into the vegetable garden.

Next I tried a small bucket load of food scraps ...

Minor snafu ...

MAJOR fail!

Finally got it all working, and learned: no egg shells, more water flow, less food scraps flux.

But, it is not solved until it is all cleaned up.


Hemant Dandekar said...

We have a compost bin in our backyard which we turn over every 3-4 weeks and use it in our vegetable garden. We just empty our compost pile (mostly fruit, vegetable leftovers, no meat) without crunching it in the garbage disposal, and nature takes care of breaking it down. No need to use electricity and water to create the liquid mulch – just some sneaker power once a day. Maybe just running the water to a holding tank and using it to water the garden might be alternative. There is an advantage when once house is at higher level than the garden - otherwise we still need a pump.

Ranjeet said...

Hi Hemant, thanks for the comment. I agree wholeheartedly - composting should be simple and should not require more resources (power, water or plastic). During the fallow season (late fall and winter) I bury kitchen scraps directly in the vegetable beds, and they are ready to go in early spring. During the growing season I throw the kitchen scraps as is into an old garbage can with some holes cut out for aeration and for worms to migrate in and out of the soil.

The goal of this project was to use kitchen graywater for irrigation instead of using clean water, thus also reducing the load on the sewage system, water purification system and ecosystem.

I'm doing this without any holding tank or filters, I'll see what the effect of the detergents is on the soil.

I ran the test with the garbage disposal mainly to make sure I could periodically clean and flush it. I may however consider switching the sinks : have the garbage disposal go to the municipal sewage line and the other sink go to my garden. Any further thoughts?

Rajesh said...

Now, just be Californian and have your showers in the lawn with your organic, 100% natural body-cleansing fluid, and watch all the fruit trees grow to provide you food and privacy.

Good handyman stuff - wish we had learned that at IIT instead of shaper and lathe.

Ranjeet said...

@Rajesh Shah: When it is warm enough, when we do shower my girls and I shower in the backyard - no soap nor shampoo. There is a hot water outlet in the back intended for a washing machine that we use for the garden hose showers. I am toying with the idea of buying an old free-standing bath tub and putting it in the back as well, next I'll put an old rusty dodge van on four cinder blocks in the front yard, tie a mangy cur to it with a chain and create my little Appalachia in CA.

I'm not so down on what we learned in IIT - I've machined some metal parts for experiments as well as for small metal sculpture, resoled my own shoes and in general been unafraid to walk into a workshop and learn the machines myself. I think the machinists respect you more when you take into account production difficulties when designing parts and I think THAT may have been the purpose of all those molding, drilling and engineering drawing classes.

Hemant Dandekar said...

I have been reading about the cost of solar power coming down - I guess we could create infinite amount of clean water from Reverse Osmosis / filtration driven by solar power generated in our house. This was instead of draining a bunch of water from the aquafer in Northern California you could just 'rent' X moles of Water molecules and reuse them again and again as transport device for your body, cleaning your clothes, home etc. Maybe we don't need to worry about water shortage too far in the future.

Hemant Dandekar said...