It’s a repeat (sorry, “encore”) but Six Degrees Could Change The World from the National Geographic is airing tonight (Thursday) on, funnily enough, The National Geographic Channel at 8PM et / 9PM pt. They have a cracking website called Is This Our Future, if you get a chance take a look.
A trailer for the show is embedded below, followed by three brief clips to give you an idea of what it’s about. If you’re reading via RSS, you might have to come here to watch.
Previously we’ve talked about Greywater or Graywater and what it is and how to go about using to.
Garden watering bans are a fact of life these days, and not just in dry climes like much of Australia and the Western US, even Britain has it’s fair share too. But a new Australian invention can keep lawns and gardens green without using any extra household water.
The Water-Leech, which retails from AUD$200 is a breadbox-sized device with a universal hose attachment that hooks up to shower or sink drains. Instead of letting grey (gray) water escape down the drain, a pump in the unit draws it into a self-contained storage tank. The pump is powered by a rechargeable battery instead of a wall plug to prevent any possibility of electric shock while it’s in operation. When the Water-Leech tank is full, owners simply wheel the unit outside to water their plants. (Providing biodegradable soaps and detergents are used, water from showers, baths, laundry, sinks and dishwashers is completely reusable.)
Water-Leech inventor Paul O’Callaghan believes his product fills a vital need at a time when environmental experts point with alarm at fast diminishing global water supplies. Though attractively styled and relatively compact, the Water-Leech still might seem a cumbersome way to reclaim water. But competing systems used to collect grey (gray) water must be retrofitted into a home’s plumbing, a task which could cost thousands.
Of course, even in areas without restrictions, the unit’s ability to reuse water can help it pay for itself. O’Callaghan says the average households can conserve 35,000 liters annually, which adds up to a nice way to keep gardens green and help conserve precious drinking water.
Forgive the awkwardly phrased headline, but The Independent newspaper in the UK reports there’s been a backlash against the number of plastic bottles that aren’t recycled and pressure is mounting on drinks manufacturers. In fact, one city council (Liverpool) have banned bottled and dispenser water on their premises – saving £48,000 a year, as well as the planet.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released figures showing that sales of mineral water in Britain amounted to 965 million litres last year – up a third from 2001. That’s around £1.6billion worth of bottled water – still small compared to America’s £5.4billion, but still significant.
So has the backlash begun? Partially thanks to a EU campaign and lobbying Congress in the US, both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, who make 55% of the plastic bottles we use, have announced they plan to overhaul their operations to recycle more.
Coca-Cola has announced it plans to recycle all its plastic bottles in the US within five years and PepsiCo’s chief executive has said it needs to do more to recycle.
So they’re reacting to the pressure by the looks of things, despite sales of bottled water going up steadily, but they may see the tide is turning. You can find out more about what Life Goggles thinks of bottled water here.
There is a basic simple tool that can be used to calculate how much water you are using. The BBC Water Calculator allows you to do some simple calculations to work out how much water you’re using or wasting.
Firstly you enter how many people are living in your household. Then you can choose parts of your home to look at.
Garden/Garage – If you have a garden and/or garage you can enter how much watering you do, whether you use a pressure washer and how often you wash your car.
Bathroom – How often you have a bath or shower, and what type of shower is important. How you clean your teeth and the general usage of your toilet (about 4.5 litres per flush) also matters.
Kitchen – This includes dripping taps, washing up, the washing machine and dishwasher.
Once all done, you can calculate how many litres (and buckets) of water you use per day, how much is used per person (compared to the average of 155 litres per day) and a nice pie chart of how your water usage is split up. It’s definitely worth a look.
According to our Green Glossary, graywater/greywater is:
“waste water that does not contain sewage or fecal contamination (such as from the shower) and can be reused for irrigation after filtration.”
Graywater Central, from Oasis Design, defines it in a slightly different manner:
“Any water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets, is called graywater. Dish, shower, sink, and laundry water comprise 50-80% of residential waste water. This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation.”
As part of our 100 ways to save the planet, we recommend the re-use of water, but what are the benefits of using graywater? Again, Graywater Central lists a few:
- Lower fresh water use
- Less strain on failing septic tank or treatment plant
- Graywater treatment in topsoil is highly effective
- Ability to build in areas unsuitable for conventional treatment
- Less energy and chemical use
- Groundwater recharge
- Plant growth
- Reclamation of otherwise wasted nutrients
Greywater.com is another great source of information that provides step-by-step information on how to set up an irrigation system, how much water you could save, what to do about pollutants and so on. Do you have a greywater system?
[Picture via Greywater.com]