Blogs | Food & Water Watch - Part 113
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October 16th, 2009

The Water Challenge Chronicles, Jon, Week 6

Having now been a No or Low impact man for the past 6 weeks, looking back on my experiences I find myself in the same position as Colin Beavan after his one year campaign to reduce his carbon footprint while living in an urban environment. I have made many water saving lifestyle changes some of them have been a real challenge while others were very easy to implement. The challenge now is to take what I have done and continue to watch my water consumption and not go back to my water wasting ways. The trick will be to make the changes I have made habitual, however I have found its really hard for me to commit to creating a new habit even as one as helpful and beneficial as water conservation without an underlying level of unique interest.
I have written about my water journey for the past 6 weeks, and have given little insight to the one thing that really motivates me, technology. I am a true geek at heart and there is nothing that sparks my interest more than the latest gadget or technological advance. This past weekend I went to a carbon free green home which promoted very interesting approaches to saving water in the household. None of which are things that I have yet to try, and all of which were very cool water saving techniques backed by stellar technologies and or gadgetry.
For my last blog post I will review the top household gadgets for water conservation that everyone (not just geeks) should enjoy!
1. Don’t cash dishes with water, when you can wash them with air!
This gadget really caught my eye, finally a way to cut out the use of water while doing dishes. This was one of the coolest things that I have ever seen, although the beta prototype in the house was mostly conceptual its cool to see what might be in the not so distant future. Washing utensils with water might soon be history if industrial designer Hwang Jin Wook‚ invention hits the production lines. In a bid to save water, Hwang has designed a dishwasherthat uses air to clean the utensils and UV rays to sterilize them. Developed for Electrolux, the Wind Washer Dishwasher utilizes a three-stage cleaning process. The process starts with the use of pressurized air to blow away all the leftover food crumbs from the dishes, then the system uses steam to degrease the utensils and finally a UV system is activated which sterilizes them. Apart from being green, the system is compact, which makes it great for individuals who are always on the move. However, with a capacity of just two dishes, the system might not be a favorable choice among party animals.
2. Save water in your shower by using, Shower Start!
It has long been agreed that by taking showers instead of a bath saves water, this is because when you have shower the time taken is probably going to be less than it takes a bath to fill, therefore it stands to reason that less water will be used. Or does it? If like many households your shower takes a short while to warm up, then perhaps before getting into it the shower it is left running for a while in order for it to get the right temperature, so maybe having a shower does not save as much water as we all think. With Shower Start you now do not need to run the water in order for it to warm up, it automatically turns on when the temperature reaches the desired degree point.
3. Make every flush a Perfect Flush.
If you dont have the money to upgrade your toilet cistern every few years, youve probably got a pretty water-inefficient toilet. Replacing the toilet is not a minor job, as a change in tanks might require the need for new tiles or wallpapering. A lot of hassle, expense and not particularly eco-friendly due to the re-decorating it would require. However, there‚ now a way of saving toilet water using your existing tank, by installing a variable flush system, called the Perfect Flush. The device is simple enough to be installed by any DIY enthusiast as it uses existing fixtures and fittings on a toilet to control how much water is used per flush. Just installing the device will save between 30% to 50% of the water needed to flush the toilet, meaning you save money right away!
4. Shorter showers now made possible with Ecosavers Shower Timers.
Shower Timers from EcoSavers® are innovative new products to educate children and adults alike to learn about saving water and energy.
Easy set the minutes and seconds you want to shower and after the set time, the timer will beep as a sign to stop showering. Limit the time you shower and save water and energy, every day time and time again. These products with digital countdown timers and alarm can easily be mounted on the shower wall by the integrated suction cup. This is a great way to visually limit your time in the shower, alternatively you can use any sort of digital timer, these are cool because they come in cool kids shapes like a duck, frog and raindrop so it makes showering fun for children.
5. Drinking water right out of thin air
From so many discoveries, this one may be the most useful the discovery and beneficial for mankind, especially in countries that experienced a water crisis. WaterMill is a tool that will generate clean water (can be drunk directly) from the air. How it works is actually almost the same way natural moisture produce, where the air into the tool will be cooled so moisture (water points), which will be collected and then in the process in the filter so the water clean.
WaterMill can be used both in the home or outside the home. WaterMill can produce clean water as much as +/- 12 liters a day. For the cost-per-liter, as Element Four, the inventor of WaterMill promises that it does not cost more than US$ 0.4 per liter while WaterMill have plan will be sold at around US$ 1,300.
6. Reduce sink waste water with the all in one sink, toilet combo.
Toilets use a lot of water, you know. And it seems kind of strange to have a sink right next to your toilet, pouring all that water down the drain, when your toilet would work just as well with your second-hand sink water as it does with regular clean water. Why not save water by running your sink into your toilet? This Dual Flush toilet takes that idea to the next level by actually putting a ink in the tank of the toilet. So you can brush your teeth while you pee, or wash your hands before flushing to use the same water for both. Sure, it’s kind of an awkward place for a sink, but you want to save the environment, don’t you?
7. Water your plants with help from the sun
While some scientists are working on technology that could make trees text their owners when theyre in need of water, companies such as Aquaterr are working on a more practical and simple technology that can help save water and prevent plants from starving to death. The company has recently launched a new irrigation system that pledges to save water by activating irrigation taps when it‚ needed. The company claims that their system can work with all brands of AC or DC commercial controllers and any size electric valve with a latching solenoid. A transmitter communicates instructions that originate from a controller that can also be your PC. This information is then relayed to the receiver which can be up to 9 km away from the transmitter. The instruction is relayed in the form of a uniquely encoded and redundant signal, which can then activate a maximum of 96 valves. Each receiver is able to control 8 valves and works on a solar panel which continuously recharges a battery powering the receiver system.
8. Control the flow of water with a high tech water meter from Eco Showerdrop.
The Eco Showerdrop is the world‚ first low-cost, universal shower meter. A simple digital display lets you know exactly how much water your shower dispenses through user-friendly graphics. A simple alert tells you when the recommended amount of water has been dispensed. The savings can be substantial in both water and energy. For a family of four that could be over $250 a year saved on water and energy bills, as well as over 40,000 litres of water and two thirds of a ton of carbon! Showering accounts for about one third of the total water used in the home and this is the fastest growing sector of water use. Devices like the Showerdrop shower meter help consumers become more aware of how much water they need to shower. It can help to save water and energy.
9. Give your car a bath without using any water!
Lucky Earth “Waterless” Car Wash makes it possible for you to quickly, easily, and inexpensively clean and detail the whole car, inside and out, and can be used on a wet or dry surface. It dissolves and encapsulates dirt and whisks it away with a microfiber towel. Since no water is needed to wash the car, you will be helping to reduce water consumption, and no pollutants will run off into our streams, rivers, and lakes. Imagine the good we will do for ourselves, our families, and the world! I have not tried this product yet, but it sounds great just another way to save water, another option would be to find a car wash that recycles their water.
10. Use an Atmospheric Water Generator modified for home use!
The EcoloBlue Atmospheric Water Generator. Image supplied by EcoloBlue. Imagine a machine that makes clean water out of the air. It might sound crazy, but it exists, and you can get one for your home. It’s name? The EcoloBlue Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG). To be honest, I was a little skeptical when I got an email about this product, but the more I learned about it, the more interested I grew‚Äîand I’m not the only one. The unit features a stainless steel tank, biodegradable plastics, and a filtration system that produces water that tests better than most purified water systems you can buy. The AWGs work best at 50 percent humidity, so they’re perfect for reducing the effects of those hot, sticky summer days and nights. The down side, of course, is they’re not as effective in the winter months when humidity levels are lower. But the nice thing about these units is they will produce water as long as humidity levels are at 30 percent‚Äîand if they’re not, you can hook it up to a water source so your drinking water is still filtered.
Well I hope you enjoyed my top ten gadget review of course the main thing to remember is that we can all do our part but the biggest abusers of water today are the corporations abusing our water supply. The best way to battle that, and yes it does need to be battled is to partner with a local grassroots non profit organization or engage on your school campus in a water conservation campaign. I hope you all enjoyed reading through the challenge over the past 6 weeks, and I hope that you will continue conserving water along with me for years to come!
– Jon Brown

JonHaving participated in Food & Water Watch’s Water Challenge for six weeks, I find myself in a position similar to that of Colin Beavan after his quest to reduce his carbon footprint while living in an urban environment. I have made many water saving lifestyle changes, some of which have constituted a real challenge, while others were very easy to implement. The challenge now will be to continue to watch my water consumption and not go back to my old water-wasting ways. Read the full article…

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October 15th, 2009

The Water Challenge Chronicles–Alex, Week 6

alexThis is my final week in the water challenge, so after today, I can finally go back to running my faucet for white noise! Just kidding. I actually think Ill keep doing most of the stuff I started doing for the challenge. Not flushing as often really isnt that big of a deal, as long as Im the only one home. Eating less meat hasnt even been a challenge, really. Ive been vegetarian all week, and last night I was at an event where the hosts were serving pizza. I have to admit that the sausage pizza looked good, Read the full article…

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October 14th, 2009

Elinor Ostrom Wins the Nobel – The Commons is the Future, the Future is Now!

Food & Water Watch cheered Monday (I am still smiling) when the Nobel prize in economics was awarded to Elinor Ostrom, a political economist and intellectual leader of the “commons” movement. Ostrom said it was an honor to be the first woman to win the prize – and promised that she won’t be the last.

Ostrom shared the award with Oliver E. Williamson. Both professors teach at U.S. public institutions and were recognized for their separate work on governance systems. Ostrom for her work on how community-based associations can successfully manage “common-pool” essential resources such as wild fish stocks and fresh water; Williamson for his work on why some companies grow so large. Read the full article…

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October 13th, 2009

Project Censored Top 25 Unreported Stories of 2009: FWW and Global Water Justice Movement Make the Cut!

Every year, Project Censored publishes a ranking of the top 25 most deserving stories that go unreported in the U.S. mainstream media. Im pleased to share the news that this year‚ list pays tribute to the increasingly successful work of the global water justice movement (‚Activists Slam World Water Forum as a Corporate-Driven Fraud”).

While the forum only takes place once every three years, our ongoing campaign to expose the corporate bias that underlies the World Water Council (WWC), the group that sponsors the forum, is a full-time endeavor here at Food & Water Watch. Read the full article…

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October 9th, 2009

The Water Challenge Chronicles – Jon, Week 5

Wow, it‚ already Week 5 of Food & Water Watch‚ Water Challenge! Searching for new ways to save water, I started taking inventory of the items in my house where I have already saved a substantial amount of water. While most of the appliances in my home are water-efficient, one remains that is not‚Äîthe toilet. Although I have been keeping a bucket of water in my shower and using that to flush, there are times that I have to resort to water from the 5-gallon tank. Since this isnt terribly efficient, I decided to research some ways to make the act of flushing less wasteful. Read the full article…

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1 Cup Water, 2 Cups Artistry

If you’re wondering how to use art to discuss water issues, look no further than the Minneapolis arts community. While in town last week for the opening of the film “No Impact Man,” I spent a day meeting with local artists there to learn about their work to use the visual and aural arts as a means of illustrating the social and political issues surrounding water. Turns out there‚ a lot to see.I kicked things off over breakfast with Liz Dodson and Marilyn Cuneo, organizers of “Women and Water Rights,” which opens at the University of Minnesota‚ Nash Gallery next spring. The month-long exhibit will feature American and international female artists whose work focuses water rights. Afterward, I took a spin out to the charming Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to catch the tail end of “Waterosity,” a collection of 10 juried art installations exploring the “gifts of water.” There, landscape designers Debra Ensteness and Sheila Hawthonrne met me to discuss their instillation, “Take Back the Tap: Protect Our Environment“. The giant walk-through water bottle was constructed with 7,500 discarded bottles and incorporates facts about the detrimental effects of bottled water in order to illustrate its blight on the environment and your wallet. Read the full article…

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October 8th, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger Throws Tantrum and Threatens California

Reading this article in the San Francisco Chronicle , I was reminded of my five year old twins. Sometimes when they get mad at each other, they stomp their feet and threaten to throw their toys. It’s behavior that Im sure theyll grow out ofat least I hope.

AB 1242 (Ruskin) would establish clean, affordable water as a human right for all Californians. Agreement on this principle is critical to any comprehensive water solution as there are over 150,000 Californians who currently lack access to safe affordable water.

But, those hopes were dampened a little when I read about the implicit threat coming from Governor Schwarzenegger to veto all 700 + bills sitting on his desk if the legislature does not reach an agreement with him on a water package by Friday. As we saw towards the end of the session, a package acceptable to the Governor must include more surface storage (or ‚dams” as you and I might call them), and the package discussed last month included legislation that would facilitate the construction of a costly and environmentally damaging peripheral canal. Read the full article…

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The Water Challenge Chronicles – Alex, Week 5

As promised, I made a video blog for this week’s entry. Because I’m vain, I feel the need to make the following disclaimers: My voice actually DOES match my lips in real life, but for some reason it didn’t in the very beginning of this video. Also, it was really hot in the bathroom when we were installing the new shower head. So look for me to be glistening in that scene. With that, please take a look at my video, and see how it incredibly easy (and cheap) it is to replace an aging, inefficient shower head! Read the full article…

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October 6th, 2009

If it's broken, fix it!

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported
on the unfortunate story of a 22 year-old woman who became paralyzed
due to a reaction to E.coli that she contracted from a
hamburger.  Even though preventable food-borne illnesses like this one
continue to occur, not enough is being done to ensure safe food for
consumers. Ground BeefIn 2008, USDA tested ground beef at processing facilities it regulates and found deadly E. coli contamination 54 times.  USDA already found it 31 times this year. But what happened after that? You might assume that the agency tried to find all the product in those batches that were tested so that it could be removed from store shelves before it could harm the public. That‚ where youd be wrong. Read the full article…

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October 2nd, 2009

Lawsuits Challenge Fishery Privatization in the Gulf of Mexico

This Tuesday, Food & Water Watch applauded as two separate lawsuits where filed in Florida, challenging the legality of a recently finalized program known as catch shares that would privatize access to tilefish and grouper, public fish stocks, in the Gulf of Mexico.

One challenge came from the 90,000 member-strong Coastal Conservation Association, a recreational fishing group based in Texas. The other came from an independent small-scale commercial fisherman with a strong backbone named Brian Lewis, based in Clearwater, FL. Both legal complaints cite the unfair (and likely illegal) process used to develop and finalize the privatization plan, and the unfair intended outcome: creating a program that makes a “free market” tradeable commodity of the ability to catch fish, principally to enable a handful of businesses to control public fish resources. Read the full article…

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