A Simple Step You Can Take: Install a Low Flow Shower Head

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If you’re like most Americans, you probably take a shower every day.

Unless you’re already using a low-flow shower head, you have an opportunity to save some money in addition to cutting back on your family’s environmental impact.

Low Flow Shower Heads are designed to restrict water flow while providing a good shower. We found one at the Real Goods store for $12.00 that they claim will save you 50-70% of your water usage (which for a family of 4 could be up to $25/year in savings).

In terms of Carbon savings, according to this analysis by Environmental Defense, a single low-flow shower head could save over 350 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere.

I installed one of these recently and it took only about 5 minutes. I purchased the shower head and some “plumber’s tape” for under $10 at Walmart, and I used only a pair of pliers to do the installation.

The water pressure is only a little less that my old shower head and it works fine. After using it a few times now, I don’t even notice a difference.

Overall, it was an easy project with a nice payback — and an easy way to cut down the energy my family uses.

Next Actions:

Links from Readers


Sometimes readers send me links. I think it’s great because I get to know what interests people. Here are some recent ones:

Our twitter follower bythebayou @replied me a link to Co-op America. They look interesting — I like that they encourage people to take action.

Another twitter follower monkchips, sent this link on saving energy by turning computers off at night! He recently learned that in Japan, insurance companies offer lower rates to companies that turn their servers off in the evening, since the believe it lowers the risk of fires. He describes it as “a commitment to not 24/7, not follow the Sun, not have uptime for its own sake.”

Finally, regular reader jhimm e-mailed me a link to a rant of his on some current Chicago news — the recent proposals to add a 10 – 25 cent tax to all bottled water sales. Let’s just say jhimm is a bit upset by the news. We’ve been discussing the role of government (see here and here) in changing people’s behaviors, so thanks jhimm for adding to the conversation.

If you run across something that’s big news where you are or that you think we should be covering, let us know through a comment on the site or send us an e-mail at ’21c AT 21st-century-citizen.com’.

The Role of Government, Part II

In an earlier post, we asked the question “What is Government’s role?” when it comes to forcing the behavior changes that will be required to get people to conserve resources. The discussion threads on that post debated whether government should reward good behavior, or punish poor behavior.

As a follow up, I thought it would be interesting to explore examples of government working to encourage good behavior. (I’m sure we’ll get to examples of government punishing bad behavior as well.)

To begin with, here’s an example of what seems to me to be a great example of government working to encourage industry in a positive way.

In Singapore, the government put out a Challenge Call to industry to submit “breakthrough / disruptive technologies” in the area of Seawater Desalination.

One of the major impacts from global climate change is its expected impact on water supplies around the world. The blog A New Green Earth has been documenting how these issues are already impacting certain areas of Australia. The government in Singapore has has challenged industry to respond with proposals, and it’s offering real money to those with the best ideas.

Challenge Call For Innovative Technologies In The Domain Of Seawater Desalination

The Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI), under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), Singapore, was set up to spearhead the growth of the environmental and water industry in Singapore. With the support of agencies like the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the PUB, EWI is committed to invest in research & development in the areas of environment and water.

EWI is now calling for PRELIMINARY research proposals with breakthrough / disruptive technologies to meet the following challenges:

* Production of drinking water that meets World Health Organisation (WHO) Drinking Water Guidelines
* Total energy consumption of 1.5 kWh/cu.m or less

Closing Date: 2 November 2007 (noon, 1200h, Singapore Time)

Note: This is a live challenge. It will be interesting to see what the results are.

Another example of the government encouraging good behavior was the recently completed Federal Electronics Challenge. This challenge gave awards recognizing government agencies which helped “improve its sustainable practices when purchasing, managing and disposing of their electronics assets”.

Finally, let’s look at how government can work to directly impact the behavior of individuals. Here’s a good example of two ways to approach a problem.

The City of San Diego, California has a problem sourcing water for its citizens. It responded by issuing a challenge to them to reduce their water use. They asked San Diegans to reduce their water consumption by 20 gallons per day and provided information to help them do so.

Now compare this to the situation in Australia where the government is sending letters to individuals who are using too much water and threatening fines if they don’t change their behaviors.

What do you make of these issues/approaches? How much should government get involved?

Earth 911 reminds us…

That in the Summer it’s important to check your sprinkler for leaks. According a post this afternoon:

A broken sprinkler can waste thousands of gallons of water, not to mention bring you a hefty water bill.

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Water, Water everywhere — But not a drop to drink, shower, water the lawn…

The Aussie blog, A New Green Earth, has been doing a great job of keeping the world tuned in to the water crisis currently happening in Queensland, Australia.

According to a recent post:

South East Queenslanders have succeeded in getting their water usage down to 137 liters per person per day by saving water inside and outside their homes.

The first of five treatment plants that will be part of a larger Aquifer project has been completed. Pipes have also been laid for over 25 kilometers of the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project and over 23 kilometers of the Southern Regional Water Pipeline.

All projects securing essential water supplies to the region are being managed under accelerated time frames.

Level 5 water restrictions are currently in place in the region for all.

These include only using tap water in buckets or watering cans for the garden on allocated days between 4pm–7pm.

No washing of cars with tap water, but a bucket can be used to spot clean mirrors, lights, glass and number plates.

From 1 July, existing swimming pools can only top up with tap water as a last resort where a rainwater tank or downpipe rainwater diverter is fitted and the premises complies with three of the following, a swimming pool cover, water efficient taps and showerheads, water efficient toilets, or water efficient washing machine.

New or renovated pools may only be filled with water sourced from areas not under Level 5 restrictions. That means bringing it in by truck.

High water users must submit a water use assessment form to audit their water use and identify saving opportunities.

Welcome to the new world of Global Warming.

It’s amazing to think that there are still naysayers and those who are carrying water for the oil companies trying to convince us that global warming doesn’t exist. Here’s an area that’s home to literally millions of people, and its water supplies are simply drying up.

Things are so bad, the government that is resorting to drastic measures to keep people from wasting water:

The Queensland Water Commission will be sending 80,000 households please explain letters asking why they are using more than 800 liters of water per day.

The Commission has also discovered 3,000 homes using 2,000 liters a day.

The State Premier said these people will have until the end of the month to explain their water usage.

He has stated that he requires people with such water usage to change their ways and to accept the drought is everyone else’s problem.

The Queensland Water Commissioner say the current rain falling will only put back level six water restrictions by as little as three days, and the target of 140 liters a day water usage remains.

Imagine your government telling you that you must drop from 2000 liters a day of water usage down to target of 140 liters. That’s a drop of 95% — it’s staggering.

Or, in the words of A New Green Earth: “Welcome to the new world of Global Warming.”

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