The idea of sustainability is sometimes obscured by all of the rhetoric one encounters on a journey to stop hurting the earth and start helping it. That's what we all want to do after all right? We want to learn how to not do any harm and start fixing what we messed up. Well charity begins at home as the saying goes.
If you grew up in the city, your water has been arriving in a pipe, and leaving in a pipe after you have used it. One pipe for 'grey' water and one for 'black' water. Grey water refers to the water a household produces that has been mixed with soap and soiled by dishes, clothing and human washing. Black water refers to the water used in the toilet to carry away effluent. Both types account for a massive water wastage. That water does not need to be transported away, and if it isn't, it can be used to water food gardens. Obviously this is more than simply a matter of unplugging the drains and letting them start flowing into the soil around your home. That will make a mess to say the least. Doing the necessary preparation of the soil and the shape and lay of the land as well as the life present, both microbial and macro biological life like plants is essential. If you do your homework, it quickly becomes clear that cleaning water with natural systems is not only desirable, but perfectly possible as well.
There is an excellent illustration of the principles involved in cleaning water with biological resources in use at the Johannesburg Zoo, where soiled water from the streets of Johannesburg enters the system on one side of the zoo, is run through a system of natural filtration including but not limited to the reed beds which add oxygen and start cleaning the water at the cellular level.Our own effort is pictured below.