Rain barrels are enjoying a new surge in popularity, and we’re so glad to see them making a comeback! Generations ago, harvesting rainwater was common practice. The recent drought prevention efforts have made water conservation methods and rainwater collection more and more mainstream. Rain barrels are just another great example of the old becoming new again. They were standard fixtures on homesteader farms in the past, but now their numbers are climbing in the city and the suburbs too.
Rainwater and Soft Water
As the original soft water, rainwater used to be the go-to for everyone’s outdoor water use and laundry. Before we had water softeners, people collected rainwater because it made cleaning a lot easier. Rainwater doesn’t contain the dissolved minerals found in creeks and streams (or our tap water today), so it lets soap lather like it should. Plus it keeps laundry from turning orange from high-iron water.
Nowadays it might sound extreme to use rainwater to hand-wash your laundry, but harvesting rainwater can still be a great fit for modern living. Rain barrels not only save you money on your water bills, they can help maintain a healthy community water cycle.
Benefits of Having Your Own Rain Barrel
- Provides Water for Your Garden: Harvesting water from your roof with a rain barrel can easily supplement your garden’s water needs, or your home’s landscaping through the hot summer months.
- Encourages Groundwater Recharging: Developed areas aren’t very good about absorbing water back into the earth. The water tends to just run into the storm drains. Conserving water in rain barrels and spreading it back onto your home’s landscape helps maintain a healthy groundwater supply.
- Prevents Runoff & Water Pollution: When water collects in your rain barrel, you help stop water polluted with chemical runoff from entering back in the water supply. The less pollutants we have in our waterways, the better!
- Reduces Your Carbon Footprint: Because rainwater keeps you from solely relying on the city’s water supply, you can cut costs with your water bill. (And feel good about recycling your area’s water.)
- Gives You “Free” Soft Water: Want to go the extra mile with water conservation? A full rain barrel can provide plenty of soft water for washing your car, the dog, or even your laundry.
If you want to start keeping a rain barrel or two on your property, check out this water harvesting formula. It’s an easy way to figure out what kind of water yield you can expect to get off your roof. We’re fortunate here in Indiana because the state doesn’t limit or restrict rainwater collection. Other states do—so be sure to check your local government’s policies before you start catching those water droplets.
For more information on using a rain barrel in your yard, visit Recycle Indiana’s rain barrels page. Figuring out your rainwater collection process can be a great afternoon DIY project. But if you’re not feeling too handy, you can always search for a local rain barrel seller or installer. Once you get going, it’s amazing how helpful your old-world rain barrel can be—even in these modern times!
Want to go green indoors too?