How to dispose of greywater when camping? (3 approaches to treat greywater) 

This article will discuss the ways in which greywater can be disposed of correctly. Other covered aspects would include: 

  • What is the right way to dispose of greywater?
  • Which plants benefit from greywater?
  • Is greywater harmful or harmless?
  • How can greywater be treated?
  • What are the effects of greywater on health?
  • Can greywater be used to our benefit?
  • What is the difference between greywater and wastewater?
  • Can you drink filtered greywater?
  • FAQs

How to dispose of greywater?

The right way to dispose of greywater is to reuse it in different ways. Another approach to dealing with grey water is to treat it so that it may be used as a virgin source. 

Although it is safe to simply dispose of grey water as it is relatively non-toxic, it is not advised as such. The major sources of greywater include kitchens, cleaning areas, ablution areas, washing areas, showers et cetera. 

One needs to be mindful that he is not using harmful products such as detergents made from harmful materials (parabens, triclosan et cetera). 

There are usually three steps/approaches when it comes to the treatment of greywater. These are primary, secondary, and tertiary treatments. 

If greywater is not managed properly, the microbes present can pose health issues that can exacerbate if left untreated. 

What is the right way to dispose of greywater?

In order to better understand the right ways to dispose of greywater, let us first explore what greywater is in the first place. Grey Water can be described as wastewater that does not include toilet waste. 

Since it does not include toilet waste, it is generally perceived as safe to be used or rather reused. 

Therefore, it can be stanced that one right way of dealing with the disposing problem of greywater is that it can be reused in a number of ways. 

Another approach to dealing with grey water is to treat it so that it may be used for a number of different purposes. 

Although it is safe to simply dispose of grey water as it is relatively non-toxic, it is not advised as such. 

The main reason behind this is that if grey water is simply thrown away, its potential would not be cashed as it should have been. This is not a green approach. 

What are the actions that you can take to dispose of greywater when camping?

Below are some of the steps that you can take to properly dispose of greywater when camping. These steps include: 

  • You may pour greywater on the soil
  • You may pour greywater in the plants such as raspberries, kiwi, grapes, blackberries
  • You may reuse greywater to be used in washroom-related purposes  
  • You may reuse greywater after getting it treated (primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment) 
  • You may use greywater for secondary domestic purposes like cleaning, washing 
  • It is better to not dump greywater into water bodies as water quality will be affected and so can the aquatic life too

What are some precautions that you need to be careful about while disposing of greywater while camping?

Although greywater is different from regular wastewater, there are certain factors that you need to be mindful about. One of them is making sure that your greywater is not mixed with wastewater when camping.

Also, ensure that you only use eco-friendly and biodegradable products so that the greywater generated after using those products may be safe enough to dump in the ground or into the plants. 

There will be little possibility of treatment of greywater while camping so it is best to ensure that products such as shampoos or soaps containing chemicals such as triclosan or parabens may be avoided. 

If that is not considered, then the greywater generated from the use of these products can affect soil and groundwater ecosystems. 

Which plants can benefit from grey water?

As expressed, one effective strategy to deal with grey water is to reuse it. One good way to do that can be by using grey water to pour on plants. 

Plants such as raspberries, kiwi, grapes, blackberries, passion fruit, and hops can utilise grey water and use it as a source of water in their metabolic process. 

This will lead to effective waste management and will also lessen the burden on groundwater needs. 

However, before this, you need to ensure that grey water does not include water from toilets and washrooms. 

If this filter is not applied correctly, there can be more harm than good. As this wastewater can impact the soil in a degradative way. 

Is grey water harmful or harmless?

This is yet another question but a flexible one too. Grey water is usually regarded as harmless because it does not include waste from toilets. 

However, if grey water is not properly managed, then it can certainly prove to be harmful. 

The major sources of greywater include kitchens, cleaning areas, ablution areas, washing areas, showers et cetera. 

One needs to be mindful that he is not using harmful products such as detergents made from harmful materials (parabens, triclosan et cetera). 

If care and vigilance are not equated in, there will be a misbalance that would result in negative implications on life and the environment. 

For example, many commercial products such as detergents and soaps may contain chemicals like parabens or triclosan. 

If grey water contains these chemicals, these chemicals can seep into the ground and cause pollution. 

Also, harmful grey water also has the capacity to cause degradative effects on aquatic ecosystems. This can affect both aquatic ornaments and water quality. One such example can be eutrophication. 

How can greywater be treated?

As it has been established that grey water can pose a number of effects on life and the environment. Therefore, it gets imperative to talk about the various treatment methods and options available. 

There are usually three steps/approaches when it comes to the treatment of greywater. These are:  

  • Preliminary treatment 
  • Primary treatment 
  • Secondary treatment 

However, it must be expressed that there is no particular or stringent treatment protocol when it comes to greywater treatment. 

The procedures may vary based on regions and the overall quality of grey water. The primary idea behind greywater treatment is to use filtration methods coupled with biological processes to enhance or augment the process. 

Primary treatment mostly involves the use of filtration procedures to filter out major pollutants from grey water. However, the primary method is mostly associated with macro aspects of pollutants. 

In the case of micro aspects, biological treatments are dependent upon them. These are classified in the category of secondary treatment. 

Secondary treatment usually involves the use of microbes or algae to filter out the impurities of grey water so that the effects of grey water can be buffered and balanced. 

What are the effects of greywater on health?

This section of the article will elaborate on all the possible health effects that can be caused by grey water. This will let us have a better idea as to why grey water should be handled with care. 

It is estimated that although grey water does not contain faecal elements, there still can be harmful microbes present in grey water. 

If grey water is not managed properly, these microbes can pose health issues that can exacerbate if left untreated. 

As per research, the following microbes may be present in grey water:

  • Enteric microbes
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus 

If by any chance, these microbes enter the human body, there can be health issues such as stomach pain, gastrointestinal issues, nausea, weakness, sensitivity et cetera. 

It is estimated that about 50-80% of grey water is usually safe but in the remaining cases, there is a possibility of these harmful microbes. 

Can grey water be used to our benefit?

Yes, it is possible that grey water can be used to our benefit. The primary reason behind this claim is that grey water may contain elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus. 

These elements can be used by plants for their growth and metabolic processes. 

However, there are certain conditions that you should be mindful of before throwing grey water into plants or soil. 

It is to be made sure that grey water does not contain any harmful materials such as parabens et cetera. 

If there are toxic elements in grey water then there will be more harm than good. Since grey water can obstruct plants’ health and may also degrade soil quality. 

If you are uncertain if you should use grey water for plants and soil or not then you can opt for grey water treatment first before any reuse. 

This will ensure that grey water is put to good use and that the plants and soil are also benefited. 

What is the difference between greywater and wastewater?

Many people confuse grey water with wastewater. However, both are quite different. 

Wastewater means water waste from all sources such as toilets, washrooms et cetera. Wastewater is also called black water. 

Grey water on the other hand does not contain faecal contents. Therefore, grey water is usually sourced from sources such as kitchens, sinks, washing areas et cetera. 

As it can be guessed, grey water, by default, is better than black water. Also, it is easier to treat water than black water. Also, grey water will have a lower amount of microbes (harmful pathogens) than black water. 

Can you drink filtered grey water?

It is not advised to drink filtered grey water because there is a risk of microbes and pathogens. 

Although greywater is considered better than typical wastewater, it is important to remember that it is a type of wastewater, after all. 

The microbes and pollutants in grey water but no process is perfect. There will be some loopholes. Therefore, it is best not to drink grey water. 

Also, it is even advised that grey water should not be given to animals. However, treater grey water can be used for vegetable and ornamental plants. 

The irrigational use of greywater is regarded as the most common one. You can also use grey water to water your plants and gardens. 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that the right way to dispose of greywater is to reuse it in different ways. Another approach to dealing with grey water is to treat it so that it may be used as a virgin source. 

Although it is safe to simply dispose of grey water as it is relatively non-toxic, it is not advised as such. The major sources of greywater include kitchens, cleaning areas, ablution areas, washing areas, and showers et cetera. 

One needs to be mindful that he is not using harmful products such as detergents made from harmful materials (parabens, triclosan et cetera). 

There are usually three steps/approaches when it comes to the treatment of greywater. These are primary, secondary, and tertiary treatments. 

If greywater is not managed properly, the microbes present can pose health issues that can exacerbate if left untreated. 

Frequently Asked Questions: How to dispose of greywater when camping?

How can greywater be treated?

There are usually three steps/approaches when it comes to the treatment of greywater. These are:  

  • Preliminary treatment 
  • Primary treatment 
  • Secondary treatment 

What is the difference between greywater and wastewater?

Wastewater means water waste from all sources such as toilets, washrooms et cetera. Wastewater is also called black water. Grey water on the other hand does not contain faecal contents. Therefore, grey water is usually sourced from sources such as kitchens, sinks, washing areas et cetera. 

References

  • Siggins, A., Burton, V., Ross, C., Lowe, H., & Horswell, J. (2016). Effects of long-term greywater disposal on soil: A case study. Science of the Total Environment, 557, 627-635.
  • Carden, K. (2006). Understanding the use and disposal of greywater in the non-sewered areas of South Africa (Master’s thesis, University of Cape Town).
  • Carden, K., Armitage, N., Sichone, O., & Winter, K. (2007). The use and disposal of greywater in the non-sewered areas of South Africa: Part 2–Greywater management options. Water SA, 33(4).
  • World Health Organisation. (2006). Overview of greywater management health considerations (No. WHO-EM/CEH/125/E).
  • Li, F., Wichmann, K., & Otterpohl, R. (2009). Review of the technological approaches for grey water treatment and reuses. Science of the total environment, 407(11), 3439-3449.

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