Rain barrels are great for re-purposing rain water that would otherwise run off the roofs of homes or businesses and into the sewer system. A rain barrel collects and stores some of this runoff which can later be used for outdoor activities such as watering plants. Collecting rain water also prevents it from running onto sidewalks and streets, which reduces the amount of pollution that eventually gets carried to rivers and the ocean.
Rain barrels are easy to build at home or they can be purchased as kits or pre-assembled . Some of these kits also include planters on the top to make them more decorative while still being functional.
A rain barrel is typically situated against the home under a roof downspout. Most often, 55 gallon barrels are used for residences. To keep mosquitoes and debris out of the barrel, mesh can be used to cover the opening at the top. A spout towards the bottom of the barrel allows for it to be emptied with a hose or into a watering can. For areas that get a lot of rain, multiple rain barrels can be connected in series so that when one fills up it can overflow into the next. This prevents excess water from spilling out of the barrel and saturating the ground, which can cause barrels to sink or tip over.
At Park Place School’s Outdoor Classroom, two rain barrels have been installed. These barrels were built largely from salvaged materials and were of little cost. To make them more attractive, rain barrels can be painted with any number of designs.
Trash cans are another opportunity to get creative with style. Instead of having the typical, unattractive trash can, some choose to decorate them to make them more appealing. Decorative trash cans are also more noticeable than plain ones that may blend in with the background. If people notice the trash can, they will know that it is there for them to use.