We’ve got some water waste issues here at the Homestead which I am in the process of correcting. In many cities, counties and states, the water authority will help out with free stuff. My Hi-Desert Water District is all out of money to help rebate some of the cost of low-flush toilets, but they do offer a free “I Save Water” kit with a low-flow showerhead and some other useful items.
I very much want to applaud their efforts, but the problem is they have been short-sighted in looking at conservation as simply a water issue. Yes it is green to save water, but why not design some packaging that also conserves on plastic and is therefore not only green in color trim, but green in the ecological sense?
As you can see, the whole kit comes in a plastic bag. Now, this bag is actually designed as a “Flow Meter Test” bag, which means you can measure how much your current showerhead uses and compare that to what your brand spanking new showerhead is going to use. But once this test is done, what am I supposed to do? Turn it into an attractive handbag? It does have two little green handles with trim, a matching green bottom and a snap. I’m sure I can use it for something. But I’ve already got a lot of plastic in my life. And the ocean has a lot of plastic floating around and landfills are filled with it as well as some of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood and over half the “Housewives” on the various “Reality TV” franchises. We don’t need any more of this stuff!
Thankfully, the directions and water conservation tips are printed on paper. The showerhead is a mixture of metal and plastic, but as it will have a long life I’m not necessarily opposed to it’s manufacturing content. But the plastic bubble wrap that it comes in? A small bag of bubbles 2 by four inches, it has no real use. Then we come to the low-flow nozzle to switch out at the kitchen tap. It comes in a small resealable ziplock plastic bag much like the ones drug dealers use to package product. Since I’ve sobered up, I won’t really have a use for this bag and I can’t figure out why this KITCHEN nozzle couldn’t have been wrapped in PAPER like the other two nozzles they gave me for bathroom taps (see photo). And I think the showerhead could have been wrapped similarly without incident. The whole thing could have come in a BOX made of 100% recycled material. As it is, the plastic “purse” doesn’t even have the marking telling what kind of plastic it is should one attempt to “recycle” it.
There is one final piece of plastic but it will have a long life and it allows a low income person like me to easily cut back on the water my current non low-flush toilet uses. It is called a ‘Fill Cycle Diverter’ and takes excess clean water from the bowl post-flush and diverts it back into the tank for the next flush. This device works best if you clean your toilet regularly – because you don’t want germy water to just keep cycling from bowl to tank to bowl to tank to bowl. But I’m pretty good at grabbing the scrub brush when necessary, so I’ll give it a try.
I’m happy to have these new (and free) additions to my water conservation effort. But I didn’t need all the extra plastic. And if someone saw fit to wrap two items in paper, what about the others? I just don’t get it. Designers/packagers/well-meaning greenies can be so myopic at times.