Kali Newlen is a rising Junior at James Madison University. She is majoring in Media Arts and Design. Madison is a very “green” campus, and she uses it to follow one of her passions, photography.
An easy way to be “green” and not bust your budget.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s a simple concept, and key to our mission to Keep Virginia Beautiful. But there is another “R” word that can make an impact and we rarely hear enough about it. “Rain Barrel.” Rain barrels are the next big item in the “green” realm and something that you should really consider for your own backyard.
So what’s so great about these rain barrels? Primarily they are an ideal way to conserve water. In the typical Virginia summer, most days there is a chance of thunderstorms and we sure get our fair share of afternoon showers. You can channel this rainfall into something beneficial by using your rain barrel to collect the 50 to 100 gallons of free water that drains from your rooftop. You can then use this water to quench the thirst of your lawn, garden, or even your indoor plants. You can get even more creative and use it for things like washing your car.
Installing a rain barrel near your downspout or gutter allows you to let Mother Nature do some work for you. You can pay her back by using this free, natural water with no added chemicals or pollutants to beautify your landscape. Rain barrels are perfect for those who want to do something green but are budget conscious. Going green doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money.
You can purchase a rain barrel for about $100. For those “do it yourself” folks, you can buy some materials and create your own. Natural Rainwater has some basic instructions that make it easy to build your own. You can also attend a workshop. Clean Virginia Waterways holds them all over Central Virginia. They are a great advocate and educate the public about the importance of water conservation, but they also teach you how to build, install, and maintain your very own rain barrel.
Rain barrels are important because they prevent runoff that pollutes our environment. The more rainwater that we collect and reuse, the fewer chemicals end up getting washed into our streams and rivers. As if this weren’t enough, installing a rain barrel can save you money! Yes, you heard correctly: A rain barrel can eventually pay for itself. The average American uses approximately 100 gallons per day. That’s right, One Hundred Gallons Per Day. Multiply that by the 300+ billion residents of the United States. That’s a lot of water. In many parts of the country, over half of that water is used outdoors. Rain barrels not only decrease the amount of water that we need, they will also decrease your water bill.
Most localities offer you a perk if you use green products or reduce your impact. For example, the City of Richmond offers a credit through the Department of Public Utilities if you use rain harvesting methods or otherwise reduce your storm water impact. If you couple a rain barrel with other conservation efforts like a rain garden or porous pavers you can earn up to a 50% credit on that portion of your bill. If that’s not a great incentive then I don’t know what is.
Can you imagine how much water we could conserve if we all installed rain barrels in our own backyards? We should spread the word. Tell your friends, your family, and your neighbors about this very simple and practical idea. We could turn the Big Three into a Big Four – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rain Barrel. Together, we can Keep Virginia Beautiful, one rain barrel at a time.