Let It Rain!

“I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who
is waiting for it to rain.  And I feel soaked to the skin.”

~Leonard Cohen

Kai reclaims food grade barrels and constructs stand alone or daisy-chained rain barrels.  He offers free and sustainable local delivery (by bicycle, of course!).  10% of profit donated to Blue Planet Project, an international civil society movement to protect the world’s fresh water from the growing threats of trade and privatization.

Kai with Rain Barrels

From Kai on 05.03.10

Early last spring, I found myself reading a lot about water.  It turns out that much of the world is rapidly losing its supply of fresh water thanks in large part to industry (by far the largest user), unsustainable agriculture, climate change, and, to a lesser extent, poor social planning.

I learned that industry consumes fresh water at a phenomenal rate (it takes over 39,000 gallons of water to produce the average automobile and almost 9 gallons to manufacture a single tiny microchip) and is renowned for returning it to us much dirtier then it was, thanks to the addition of dangerous and deadly industrial by-products.  And I came to find that unsustainable agricultural practices – things like sprinkler irrigation, non-use of cover crops on fallow fields, cash-crop production of highly water intensive crops (like flowers), factory livestock farming, and extensive use of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other biocides – taken together, has resulted in the diversion of entire rivers, the using-up of entire lakes and a massive increase in polluted runoff comprised of excess nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and a potent cocktail of antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones.

Not to be left out, climate change is altering weather patterns, such that places that were once wet are now undergoing drought, and increased average temperatures worldwide are melting glaciers and evaporating snow (instead of melting and populating watersheds, the snow pack in some parts of the world is simply disappearing into thin air).Barrels in Our Garden

Finally, an almost complete lack of responsible social planning has lead to (1) massive human over-population that has resulted in the overuse of surface water and the mining of water from below the Earth’s surface, a wholly unsustainable practice, (2) urban and suburban sprawl, the manifestation of which – endless roofs, hectares of concrete and miles of asphalt – has eradicated wetlands and diverts massive quantities of rain water from polluted roofs and streets, away form the ground and into storm drains and diversion canals, and out to Sea where it dilutes salt water and pollutes the oceans, and (3) the unmitigated consumption and unregulated use of perfectly good fresh water to flush human waste down the toilet and wash cars and water lawns. Rack/Trailer Kai made for Transporting Barrels

So, after coming up to speed on all of that, I decided it was high time I built some rain barrels.  To compliment our use of 1.5 gallon per minute faucet and shower heads, low flow toilet, and front loading washing machine, I fabricated three 58 gallon rain barrels out of reclaimed food service barrels to catch water from part of our roof and store it for later use on our raised beds and for general washing.  I remember racing to complete the project before last spring’s first rainfall, and then watching in amazement how quickly all three containers filled up with water.  The passing of one warm front was all it took.  To offset the cost of our barrels and to raise a little money for our global cycling expedition, I purchased enough materials to construct six others, four of which I have sold to date.  10% of the proceeds go to the Blue Planet Project, a side-effort of the Council of Canadians, which seeks to make water a human right while protecting this essential resource from commodification and privatization.

Need a little Cohen “Hallelujah” right about now?
Check out this incredible rendition by K.D. Lang.

2 comments to Let It Rain!

  • Tom P

    Hey Kai,

    Just checking up on your website. Lots of progress! I see you’re into building rain barrels. My friends here in Oregon have used 55 gallon barrels they obtained from a photo finishing lab for $5 to make rain barrels. According to them, the photo developing chemicals they originally held are no more dangerous than strong vinegar, so they clean up fairly easily. Really interesting website.

    Tom P.

    • Kai

      Hi Tom! Ours come from a guy that imports peppers from Turkey then re-packages them. Probably the hardest part of making your own rain barrel is tracking down a source of food”safe” barrels. Once you’re setup to make them, however, its a fairly straight forward process.

      We still look forward to stopping by your place when we arrive out your way. Given what’s been going on where you work, we’ll have lots to talk about.

      Thanks for visiting!

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