Water-saving has something of a bad reputation, as it often requires reduced facility effectiveness (as with the low-flow showers that don't clean well or the water-saving toilets that too often require multiple flushes). WorldChanging readers should already know what the right kind of solution is: a system that both reduces consumption and provides benefits that more wasteful incarnations can't match. Today's BBC brings word that British design student Peter Brewin has come up with just such a solution.
Brewin has constructed a water-recycling shower that takes the "gray water" running down the drain and filters it to clean water status, heats it to the desired temperatures, then pumps it out at full flow. The filtering system is similar to the ultra-advanced Dyson vacuum cleaner, and adoption of the shower could save a dramatic amount of water (the BBC describes it as £170 worth per year per household). But what makes the design really attractive are its various added features:
The shower has some nifty functions, including a pause button designed to please anyone who has unwittingly stepped into a freezing cold shower. The button allows water flow to be stopped until it hits the right temperature. Other features include a water meter showing water usage per shower and a chlorine filter.
Okay, these aren't super-sexy, but this is an excellent example of how to rethink the way we use resources. We've said it dozens of times: trying to save the world by making everyone give up perceived benefits is a losing strategy. But combine advantages such as cost-savings and new capabilities with responsible use -- especially use with no visible reduction of benefits -- and you have a winner.
Don't be too quick to diss low-flow systems. Some are lame, it's true, but aerators for faucets are quite nice. They force water through a fine screen that breaks it up into smaller droplets and causes mixing with air; they result in both less water use and better "wetting", because the water's smaller droplets travel freely to cover more surface, rather than being stuck in bigger drops by surface tension.
the ultra-advanced Dyson vacuum cleaner
The suction generation may be "advanced" but everything else about these bloody things is backwards. It's an OK vacuum cleaner, but does nothing that other machines 1/5 of the price can't do. The design is lousy -- it won't clean close to edges without engaging the hose doohickey, which is damned awkward, and the attachments are all fairly useless.
Sorry, offtopic, I just hate to see the damn' things praised anywhere.
You can also of course do a multi head shower and buy your toilet in mexico... very important if your living with a septic tank and those NEED a high water flow.
Low flow toilets were a disatser at first and still are for people with septic tanks. As for shower heads the easy fix is to buy your heads overseas;/