More On Dodgy Green Nozzles
Saturday, December 5, 2009
In an earlier blog post [How green is your nozzle?] I questioned the environmental claims of low-flow water-saving nozzles. I was referring to shower nozzles then, but my doubts apply to kitchen taps too. A fine example of dubious green logic involving kitchen taps has come to my notice.
A large organisation I’m familiar with, but prefer not to identify, has fitted flow regulators to about 600 conventional taps throughout all its many buildings and locations. It was boasted that these small devices fitted to existing taps will save massive amounts of water while cutting bills and helping the environment. However, the taps which have been modified, that I’m aware of, are in kitchen areas. I’m still scratching my head wondering exactly how these new flow-restricting devices are supposed to achieve any real savings.
You see, most tasks done using the taps in the staff kitchens depend on a certain volume of water. Filling a one litre jug uses one litre of water. Filling the kitchen sink to do the washing up takes one sink of water. To make one cup of tea requires - you guessed it - one cup of water! Restricting the flow doesn’t affect the amount of water needed - it just means it takes three times longer for the water needed to squeeze its way out of the tap.
Water usage might have even increased. Previously the taps just delivered water neatly to where it was needed, and nowhere else. The fancy new water-saving nozzles disperse water finely in a broad high-speed spray, resulting in surrounding surfaces being coated with unwanted splashed water which then evaporates or drains away. Isn’t this a waste of water, not a saving?
On the one hand you have the feel-good environmental claims:
- Significant savings to water consumption
- Money saved on water bills
- The environment is helped
On the other hand, my observations:
- Water saving is doubtful, as most kitchen tasks need a certain volume regardless of the speed of the tap
- Staff time is wasted, as people wait longer to fill their cups or jugs (instead of working)
- Water is wasted due to splashing by the new nozzles
And don’t forget the costs:
- The financial cost of buying and installing 600 flow regulators
- The environmental cost of producing the flow regulators: mining and processing the metals, then manufacturing, packaging and transporting them. All this takes energy (from fossil fuels), and probably some water is used too.
The real winners, rather than tap users or the environment, are surely the manufacturers of these allegedly water saving products. I think they deserve congratulations for their marketing skills. They know that saving water and being concerned about the environment - clearly good things - have become fashionable. People want to be green, and to be seen to be green. Water saving product makers have exploited this situation with magnificent shrewdness to make a lot of money.
I see it as a great contradiction - in an age when our environment needs us to consume less stuff, makers of “green” products have enticed us into consuming more stuff … in the name of helping the environment! As for the flow regulators I’ve written about, the water savings may be questionable, but the marketing has been a great success.
P.S. For kitchen tasks where a slower water flow is practical, don’t forget that flow can be reduced by simply not turning the tap on as far!