Reinventing the World: H2Ope

Sergio outside the Kafka museum in Prague, demonstrating the process. Charming.

Have you peed in the shower today? No? Oh, you naughty child…

Every single flush wastes around 12 litres of potable water, which in one year could add up to 4,000L. This is the science behind humorous campaign “xixi no banho“, which with a surprising 73% adherence since its launch is giving a whole new meaning to the term “golden shower”. Top model Gisele Bündchen liked the idea so much that she became the campaign’s ambassador and is now making all big guys (and girls) pee while bathing… besides drooling.

Regardless of where you pee there’s only one destination. In my article Potty Training I introduced the idea of Humanure composting as an inexpensive solution to our expensive water sanitation systems. Way ahead of my often fetid imagination is American company Blackgold, ready to revolutionise sewages through FOG-to-Fuel® . Such an innovative system, besides cleaning waste water streams and unclogging sewers, also converts rancid fats, oils, and greases (FOG) into biodiesel. This would be something like going to the doctor, taking a pill and have all the fat from your arteries converted into energy that would help you burn the fat at other undesired places. How amazing!

Is your thirst quenched? Not yet? OK, here’s more… Spain boasts the largest desalination plants in the world using a process called reverse osmosis; this same principle is already being marketed through domestic micro-scale applications. In Australia, an industrial design graduate created the Solar Ball, a spherical unit that absorbs sunlight and causes dirty water to evaporate; as the evaporation occurs, contaminants are separated from the clean water, which is then condensed, and ready for drinking. A more astounding invention is Air Water, that self-explanatorily extracts water from the air.

On the economic side of things, the major creators of water accessibility inequalities are big infrastructure projects from developed to developing countries. This is due to a conversion from a free ecosystem service to a privatised water commodity supply service. Although the end product is arguably superior, local populations have restricted water consumption due to the new cost imposed upon it as opposed to boiling and other cheap purifying methods. The LifeSaver Bottle, as magnificently presented on TED, replaces the functions of water treatment plants with just an inexpensive bottle. So far, the LifeSaver Bottle is the best antidote to perpetuation of social inequality and the most effective accelerator to potable water accessibility.

If you are still unsure about what to do… how about dropping the bottles and moving to tap? Take Back the Tap is a movement that started in the USA and is now spreading to cities across the world. The cost of bottled water is about 2,000 times more expensive than tap water… which is free. Does unlabelled water seem dodgy? Well, Smirnoff Vodka is actually American made and surprise surprise, most of those labels portraying the purity of Fijian virgin water streams, Tasmanian untouched fountains and others are nothing but a big illusion as most of the content from those flashy bottles are actually from the tap. The Story of Water is a very educational short video that reinforces the message.

Movies like Blue Gold should never be washed out and, although it is filled with truths about our liquid state, there is just too much negativity when solutions like the ones above really need to be on front covers more often.

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