It seems the best ideas are often the simplest. Our grey water system first began because flushing the toilet with buckets- rather than traditional toilet-tank flushes- was the only option as the plumbing restoration project was not yet fully complete. It was the simple connection between the water generated from doing dishes and water needed for the buckets to generate the formal system laid out today. For years, the greywater system stood as both a symbol to visitors demonstrating our vision, and an active, functional, and interactive part of our home; something that everyone could get behind.
Next, it was the obvious question of how much water was being saved that propelled the project further. By keeping track of the number of toilet uses without flushing, grey water flushes, traditional flushes, and shower flushes (collecting water from the shower rather than using the toilet’s tank) we could answer this question knowing the volume of our toilet tank and the buckets. Furthermore, by comparing the weekly ratios of greywater to traditional flushes we were able to analyze just how well we the system worked in practice. The average across the weeks that were recorded (the data tracking system was still improving) was about 3. Meaning for every traditional flush there were 3 grey water flushes. For the system we initially had, this was a very good average.
However, this is the now! This week’s ratio is a staggering 48 grey water to only 3 traditional, a ratio of 16. In the past, the collection system consisted of a container inside one sink to collect greywater, that would then be dumped into the buckets. In a fine show of increasing simplicity, coop member Heather Toman (with the support of the rest of the crew) made a direct connection between the sink and the buckets, eliminating the need for a separate container inside of the sink. In this way, we are saving almost all of the water used from the kitchen sink, meaning there is almost always enough grey water on hand for flushes in the bathroom, and hardly any need for traditional flushing!
Contributed by Ivan Swart
As the summer days fade away, darker mornings and chillier winds seem to be gracing our presence, and the Marquette Climbers’ CO-OP is settling into the fall semester. We have a lot of great projects in the works for our home, and we’ll hopefully cover all of them in the weeks and months to come. Join us on our journey and remember that you are always welcome to work with us! Our mission is to help ourselves and others to learn about and live a sustainable lifestyle, and we love having visitors. Seriously.
One of the larger projects for this year is the re-vamping of our greenhouse! Since the fall of 2014, the greenhouse as been a labor of love; an opportunity for us to grow our own food and be that much more sustainable throughout the year. It has been an all-around learning experience for those involved, and upgrades over time-like ventilation system that was installed early this summer - have made the space more efficient and productive for its intended purpose.
As we continue to move forward this fall, we've planned and designed a new heated floor system that will enable us to build new grow beds, essentially extending our grow season by at least three months. Visions of food processing through methods of canning and freezing are always ideal, but to regularly incorporate these ideas into our lives we'll simply need a larger volume of food. The extension of the grow season will enable this to happen.
On September 6th, with no prior experience on any of our parts, we darned work gloves, scrounged for safety glasses in the basement, rented a jackhammer, and made a day of it. It was grueling labor; the greenhouse was blazing hot, but it was a blast! We all took turns with the jackhammer while others lifted and moved asphalt out of the way. Some of us went to the kitchen to cook food for the masses, and everyone played a role in making the work day smooth and productive. Like most everything we do in the house, the whole experience brought us together through hard work, common goals, and that crazy unique family love we've got for each other. Needless to say, it was a great start to this large project. Check out the pictures below, and feel free to contact us with any questions/suggestions you made have!
Stay tuned for the next installment/update of this project as we move ahead with it in the coming weeks!
Much love from our floor-less greenhouse,