Using Rain Barrels

As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers! So it may be a good time to consider saving up some of that rain for later use. Rain barrels, in my estimation, are one of the most severely underrated tools when it comes to promoting practical sustainability.  Simple yet ingenious, rain barrels help to store and save water for a variety of non-drinking purposes.

Installing a rain barrel at your home’s gutter downspout will capture water that flows from your house’s roof.  That runoff can then be used to water your lawn, graden, and plants.  Moreover, having a rain barrel reduces the amount of water that runs off onto your property, and likewise, into the sewer system.  That means less erosion, and healthier soil for your home!

Aside from the environmental benefits of having a rain barrel, there are also financial incentives.  Conserving water from your city’s water department – or wherever you get your water – means less money is spent on your next water bill.  Naturally, who doesn’t like to save money?

There are, however, some important considerations to remember when using rain barrel water.  The water in rain barrels is untreated, meaning that it’s good for plants, but not for humans and other animals.  Similarly, water from a rain barrel should never be used to wash hands, wash food, or cook.

Furthermore, there is the unfortunate fact that collecting rainwater is illegal in some places.  Be sure to check with your local government on restrictions concerning rain barrels.

Rain barrels are simple in concept, relatively easy to install and maintain, and serve a tangible purpose in efforts to promote sustainability.  My hope is that rain barrels can help fulfill all your water needs.


Written by Dax Emerson, Class of 2021

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