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Recycling Rain | Environment

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Recycling Rain
Environment, News, Weird
Recycling Rain

By Meggan Johnson
From http://www.lowellschools.com


You might think my title is crazy - how do you recycle rain? It's easy to do - just install a rain barrel!

Last year, I received an email from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) about a train the trainer workshop they were hosting on how to make rain barrels. The idea was to teach members of the Grand Rapids community how to make rain barrels so they could host a rain barrel workshop and teach their neighbors. If everyone installed rain barrels in their neighborhood to collect the rain running off their roofs, they could reduce the amount of stormwater pollution occurring in their neighborhood. The best part about it was that WMEAC partnered with Coca-Cola and the City of Grand Rapids to offer these workshops for free! Anyone that has looked into purchasing a rain barrel knows they aren't cheap so I didn't want to miss this opportunity. I signed up right away!

At the workshop I learned how to make a rain barrel. I thought this was going to be a daunting task but it took me less then 10 minutes to complete. Coca-Cola had donated the barrels so they smelled like coke syrup - extra bonus! When I got home, I installed my rain barrel (it attaches to your downspout) and couldn't wait for the next rain to see how fast it would fill up. It worked like a champ - it was nearly full after the first rain. I did some research on the internet and found that a typical 1/2-inch rainfall will fill a 50- to 55- gallon barrel.

I asked some of my neighbors to see if they were interested in making their own rain barrels and I didn't get a great response so I thought why not offer a workshop at the Wittenbach/Wege Center - I bet I could find plenty of people that wanted to learn how to make their own rain barrel and I did. I had an overwhelming response but unfortunately I could only get 8 barrels from WMEAC. The demand was definitely there - I just needed to figure out how to get more barrels.

That's when Kathy Doyle put me in touch with Donna Cody. Donna is an employee of Lowell based Lighthouse, Inc. Many of you know Lighthouse, Inc. for their great salad dressings and yummy caramel dips! They receive some of their salad dressing ingredients in 55-gallon drums and Donna had been selling the empty drums for people to use as rain barrels as a fundraiser for Relay for Life. Donna was interested in partnering together to host several rain barrel workshops and Lighthouse, Inc. agreed to provide the barrels so we were almost there. All I needed was the hardware.

That's where Bernard's Ace Hardware came into play. Charlie Bernard, the owner, agreed to sell us the parts at his employee's costs. We were able to purchase the supplies to assemble 50 rain barrels. The large discount enabled us to keep our costs down so we could make the barrels affordable to the community while also making a small profit to donate to Relay for Life. We hope to donate well over $500 from the sale of 50 rain barrels and we are almost there. So far we've sold 34 rain barrels! We hope to sell the remaining 16 barrels by June 24th, the date of the 2011 Relay for Life event at the Lowell High School. If you are interested in purchasing a rain barrel, call 616-987 1002 or email mjohnson@lowellschools.com. We have 16 kits remaining and each kit comes with directions on how to assemble your own rain barrel as well as all the supplies you need.

You might be asking yourself, why would I want to install a rain barrel? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Provide your plants with water
  • Save money on your water bill
  • Reduce demand on your local water supply
  • Help protect your local watershed by limiting stormwater pollution
  • Do something good for the environment while also donating to a good cause, Relay for Life

Remember, we only have 16 rain barrel kits remaining. If you would like to purchase a rain barrel kit, please contact me as soon as possible to reserve yours.

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