This soap speaks for itself… literally
When you reach for the soap, this bar gives you a friendly reminder to save water. It’s pretty cute- The daily green suggests its a great gift for your non-green friends. This one is all about awareness again, but as a product it also helps to save water.
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The Ecokettle allows its user to select exactly how much water they need to boil. The water is measured in cups 1-8 and is released into a specific heating chamber. This saves time, electricity and (they boast) water. The water saving is not as significant as the energy saving however I guess a fair amount of water is lost due to steam in a kettle. Do people discard unwanted boiled water from a kettle? We don’t. It just gets boiled again when we next need hot water.
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My Broccoli video is on its way. This is the first of many films I will be recording on micro events within the household. IN this film I video peoples approaches to washing vegetables; in this case broccoli. Everyone chose to use a colander/strainer within the kitchen sink. Most subjects placed the colander on the bottom of the sink and proceeded to hand wash the broccoli. I noticed how people would pick up the pieces of broccoli and hold them closer to the tap; all the while the tap runs the entire time. Even when the subject held the colander when washing, they still felt the need to hold it close to the tap. If I could eliminate having to pick the broccoli up, potentially the tap would run for a shorter period of time and less water would be used. Or is the issue with the kitchen tap? Clearly the water does not get dispersed over a large enough area so people bring the object closer to the tap itself. And why use a strainer anyway. The water runs through the holes and out into the sink. You could simply hold the item in your hand with no strainer beneath. 2 subjects caught the water in the sink- 1 let the water go down the sink when finished and the other said that she would use the water later for washing. The colander is simply a vehicle for the broccoli moving around the kitchen- but not a very practical one. It wastes water down the plug hole. Within the film all subjects shook the colander and vegetables to remove excess water. This was not very successful and the colander still made puddles where it was placed post wash. Perhaps the colander needs to catch the water itself- that way it a person could re-use the water, and there would be no drips on the kitchen bench…
Will Medd and Elizabeth Shove, Lancaster University
‘It we start to think about our everyday activities, and what needs to be in place to enable them to happen, we soon find ourselves looking beyond our own capacity to decide and choose. Much of what we do in everyday life is routine. Such routines require a complex co-ordination of bodies, minds, technologies, and resources. In everyday life, these different elements come together and are regularly, if invisibly, co-ordinated as we go about our most basic tasks, from brushing teeth to watering a garden plant. Instead of understanding these practices in terms of a set of decisions – such as ‘what is the cost in relation to benefit’ or ‘is this the best option for me’ – social scientists have developed the concept of practice. A practice refers to a ‘routinised type of behaviour’ (Reckwitz 2002 p.249). Different practices involve different elements and/or different relationships between the elements.’
‘The existence of a practice depends upon the specific interconnectedness of many elements:
• Forms of bodily activity
• Mental activity
• Things and their use
• Background knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how and notions of competence
• States of emotion and motivational knowledge
At the same time, elements and interconnections are reproduced through the practice (following Reckwitz 2002).’
I found these reports by Will Medd and Elizabeth Shove to be so much about what I am doing. Within the text the authors point out ‘The key point is that the consumption of water takes place as a consequence of accomplishing different types of practices rather than for its own sake.’
The idea that water consumption is embedded within a larger practices- say having a shower is about being clean, not about water use, is obvious, however is an idea I have never addressed. How can you switch the practice of having a shower to having the key idea of water use with objectives of cleanliness being secondary. Cultural ideas of cleanliness are so embedded in our lives- can water saving sit beside that? How long does it take to become ‘clean’ in a shower? 2 minutes? So what are the other 10 or so minutes about that people spend standing in the shower? Is it about warmth, comfort, meaningful thought, singing…
I have compiled a list of initial micro events from around my house. I plan to now take these to other houses and study the differences with the use of participant observer studies, visual sociology studies, task analysis, time and motion studies and with the use of Therbligs.
1. Rinsing objects in a colander – can also include rinsing in a sieve/strainer
2. Quick Hand rinsing/cleaning – Cleaning an item under a running tap. – A quick wash to avoid having to make a pile of washing to do later – Usually done with hands only- sometimes with a dish cloth – Commonly washed items: coffee cups, drinking glass, small plate, knife
3. Washing dishes – Hand washing – Dish washer washing- pre rinse?
4. Feeling the water when waiting for hot water to arrive – Holding a finger under the running water
5. Brushing teeth – Water to initially wet brush? – Rinse brush
6. Washing hands
7. Boiling water/steaming (cooking) in a pot – water into pot – water used for boiling
8. Washing face in basin – with a face washer
9. Washing pet
10. Having a quick drink of water – in glass… usually discard some – From tap? – Bedside glass of water.
So I have stumbled across another idea for changing peoples water consumption. Instead of designing an object that actively changes water use, why not design something that raises awareness of peoples actions. If people were aware of how many litres they were running down the plug hole, maybe they would turn the tap off sooner…
The Bware water metre does just this. It shows a digital reading of how many litres of water is flowing through it. It simply attaches to the existing tap fitting. Bware is an entry in the greener gadgets competition from designer Ariel Drach, Israel