Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Month: February 2011

What to do with old bath water?

The other day, I had a delightfully long bath and did not let the water out of the tub at the end of it. There’s gotta be a use for that water, despite not being connected to a grey-water recovery system, where wash water can be reused for other purposes (laundry, for instance) or watering the terrain.
Of course, then I get the No Doubt “Bathwater” song stuck in my head.

Here are things you can do with your old bath water before you pull that plug:

  • While it’s still warm, if you are so ambitious, you can mop the floor. Just add vinegar.
  • You can wait and mop the floor another time, by adding a blast of hot water to the mop bucket.
  • You can wait until it is cool, and then water your plants with it. You can even dunk your plants for bottom-feeding if you let out all but 2 inches of the tub.
  • You technically could transfer it by bucket to a top-loading washing machine and do a load of laundry.
  • You can also flush the toilet with it. The flush happens because of the sudden influx of water – it doesn’t matter if the influx comes from the toilet tank or from a bucket.

All of these measures protect fresh water that you take from the tap that has been treated for drinking, and conserve the amount of water your home uses. If your home is on a water meter, it’ll save you a few gallons over the long run – even if baths do not use that much more water than a non-army veteran’s shower.

Cutting out corn sweeteners

Every year on the homestead, I have made at least one significant change in habit or consumer choice to lower my carbon footprint. No matter that some businesses and governments don’t feel like believing science when the implications mean that choice and consumption have to be altered, it is essential that we as citizens and consumers do this.

For example, I have planted lots of vegetation, reduced my demand and output for water treatment (which requires some energy at the water treatment plant), and altered some of my consumption habits, greatly increasing my organic and Community Supported Agriculture purchases and reducing dependency on processed food.

However, a new step that I am taking this year, along with planting new vegetable and cereal plots in my front and back yards, is cutting out corn fractions. I am going to read labels and do as much as I can to avoid products with high fructose corn syrup and many other derivatives, and some of that is by obtaining food closer to the unprocessed state.

I am also going to be switching over my refined sugar needs. The world is a small place, and we in North America and Europe are at the top of the food chain. We can buy whatever we need; our ability to pay top dollar means other countries go for cheaper alternatives. So we buy cane sugar, even though we can’t grow it, and these other countries buy corn sweeteners from us, and add to their health problems. I want them to have the cane sugar. So what can I use instead? Take a look at this list, and you will realize just how viable it is to take part in this effort:

  • Honey and barley malt (in the form of Ovaltine, or in the form from the brewer’s or bulk outlet) for sweetening tea, coffee, and other hot drinks. Some people sweeten their tea with jam – I don’t see why I should rule this out; especially for European brands, the refined sugar in the jam may come from beets.
  • Red beets and, if obtainable, sugar beets for cooking and baking. Cook them and mash them in. A particular plus for chocolate as it produces a nice colour.
  • Dried fruits for cooking and baking – raisins, apricots, and figs are all naturally sweet and add a nice touch to pies, crumbles, and stews
  • The Great Canadian Maple Syrup.

I fully intend to recruit my Dad, who has a knack for producing jumbo beets, and I will grow more of them myself (I love beet greens!) and try my hand at growing barley, though I don’t expect to malt it. Though there is a refinery in Griffintown – Canada Malting.

Do you have any non-cane-sugar suggestions? And, what is your obstacle in making the switch?