Happy Earth Month: Tip #1 Stock Up On Rain

You’re probably well aware that April 22nd is Earth Day, but did you know that the entire month of April pays tribute to our planet?

Around here, we’re making it easier than ever to honor Mother Nature and grow a greener city. Starting right here, right now, each week we’ll offer a new simple sustainable suggestion from our founder Andy Lipkis, from his home to yours.

First up, Andy maintains his yard and vegetable garden with rain barrels. Why? Because in Los Angeles, only 10-15% of our water comes from groundwater. The rest is imported from distant sources – Northern California and the Colorado River – at a huge cost to the environment. We use our “drinking water” to water our lawns. If more of us captured rainwater instead, and used it for our landscaping needs, we’d significantly reduce our need for imported water.

Andy is certainly a visionary and a trailblazer in the environmental field, but, in the case of rain barrels, he’s tapping into a very old tradition. People have been collecting rain water for thousands of years all around the world. Water falls from the sky for free. Capturing it for later use just makes sense. Your roof is an ideal catchment area from which you can divert rainwater into a tank – such as a rain barrel. And, even though we are in a severe drought, it does occasionally rain. But that rain is mostly sent through concrete flood control channels into the ocean.

With our water coming from so far away, why waste a single drop?

Okay, so now that we’ve convinced you to start capturing rainfall, how do you begin? Fortunately, it’s a lot easier than you might imagine:

A good first step is to place one rain barrel near a flower bed or potted plants that require you to water them by hand anyway. That rain barrel should be under a roof gutter downspout.

A 50-75 gallon rain barrel is a really nice start (you can always add more). It’s a quick DIY project and can be done for about $100. Use this calculation to figure out how much rain you can harvest:

For every square foot of area, an inch of rain will yield .6 gallons. So if you have a 1000 square foot home, you can harvest a whopping 600 gallons every time it rains an inch. Square footage x inches of rainfall x .6 = gallons of water.

But where to get your rain barrel? We’ve got you covered there, too! Orders are now being taken for an April 26 pickup date at the TreePeople – Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase. Barrels will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grandview Elementary School, 3877 Grandview Blvd., Los Angeles. Only advance orders are guaranteed to be available, so please reserve ahead of time!

If you still have more questions about rain barrels or just want to learn more, check out these great links:

Rainwater Harvesting Made Easy

Rainwater Harvesting Resources

All the Benefits of Capturing Rainwater

By Andy Lipkis

Andy Lipkis is a practical visionary who has dedicated his life to healing the environment while improving the lives of individuals and communities. He founded TreePeople in Los Angeles in 1973 at age 18 and continues to serve as its President. Andy has spearheaded an approach using trees and forest-inspired technologies to make cities sustainable while mitigating floods, drought, pollution, and climate change. Called “Functioning Community Forests,” it is being demonstrated in L.A. as a model for cities everywhere.