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Water.jpgWould you flush your toilet with Evian? You're probably laughing at the thought, but the fact is, most bottled water is no better than repackaged tap water. 

Every time you waste water, you're wasting a lot more than you think. The processing that the water goes through uses huge amounts of electricity which contributes towards pollutants and use of fossil fuels. 

Meanwhile, when you're wasteful with conventional items like food you're wasting thousands of litres of water. Every time we throw away food not only is that a waste of the packaging that it was in, but also the thousands of litres of water it took to get the item to your plate. This is no exaggeration - it takes a staggering 4650 litres of water to bring beef steak to our table.

Feeling flush          

Modern tap water's a triumph of engineering. The process it goes through from collection to final drinking is vast and complex. If you take cost out of the equation, flushing your toilet with tap water is almost as absurd as flushing it with the most pretentious bottled water. Yet we all do it. Wouldn't it be better if we used lower quality water that's previously been used in showers or to wash your hands with (known as grey water). 

Water treatment has a financial and environmental cost because of all the chemicals that need to be used, and not every community has an inexhaustible supply of water. By using grey water systems you can cut down on the amount of processing required by making the most of the water that comes through your taps; saving money and looking after the environment. 

Go Green With Grey Water

Grey water systems work in a number of different ways. Some take water from roof drains, filter it and store it for use in irrigation, washing your clothes and yes, flushing toilets. Toilets can be flushed with grey water from sinks and showers as well. 

One oft-neglected advantage? A grey water system allows you to buy old fashioned powerful, high-flow toilets, guilt free. Impress your friends and neighbours with your highly functional, environmentally sound toilets. Whether you use your grey water system to maintain the landscaping, wash the floors or justify a less efficient (perhaps antique) toilet, you will need methods for collecting the water, filtering it, and transporting it to the appropriate fixtures and taps. 

A grey water system requires an efficient pump, such as those manufactured by Lowara and Grundfos, to deliver the water to where it's needed. The cost of installing a grey water recycling system may vary a lot depending on how much water we want to recycle and how we want to use it. 

A simple system which will allow us to use filtered grey water for the laundry or for the garden can cost us between $700-$2,000 plus $100-$200 for the materials. A branched drain system can cost between $1000-$3000 plus $200-$500 of materials. A pumped system could cost more or less the same besides being slightly more expensive on the materials, maybe an extra $200. The bigger the project becomes, the harder is to do it yourself, so you should include in your budget extra for labor cost.

Due to the amount of energy involved in water's treatment and transportation, wasting water is no smaller "sin" than wasting food or other solid trash. Start doing the research today, and you could have an energy efficient, water-conserving, toilet enhancing grey water system in place this summer. 

James Finlayson.jpg
James Finlayson works for London Pumps and enjoys writing about the environment when he's not travelling or reading about the latest trends in technology. 

Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection
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JetStorm eco showerhead tips.jpgWith Britain on the brink of its worst drought in 30 years and the threat of hosepipe bans just around the corner, people are being urged to start seriously saving water. Help beat the drought with these simple, cost-effective measures and make splashing savings in the process!

1. Money and water down the drain!

Did you know that keeping a tap running while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face wastes more than six litres of water a minute?!

Get into the habit of keeping taps turned off and, whenever possible, use cold water instead of hot to trim those bills.

2. Wise up your washing load!

When using your washing machine, make sure it is a full load to reduce water waste. You should also check you are using the most water and energy efficient settings for maximum savings.

When washing up, use a sink of water instead of a running hot tap - doing this could save you £25 on your water bill and £34 on your gas bill!*

3. Tighten those taps!

It seems simple, but checking your taps are properly tightened after use could save you a fortune - a dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year! Change your washers if you notice a dripping tap. This will immediately stop you wasting water and money too!

4. Forget the hose and use your butt!

The average UK roof collects around 85,000 litres of rain water each year. Start putting it to good use by installing a water butt to capture rain water and use it to wash your car, water your garden or even to flush the toilet.

5. Soak up the Savings in your shower!

Replace your showerhead. Some of the latest showerheads claim to use up to 45 per cent less water, saving you hundreds of pounds on your water bills each year. For example, check out the £49.95 JetStorm eco showerhead (pictured) from Ecocamel.

The time I chose to visit Australia was one of mass drought. Water saving was of utmost priority, and every drop was accounted for. When my Australian friends visited me during our 'drought', they scoffed that our water saving measures tended to extend as far as - not using the garden hose. My friends concluded that we Brits didn't even know the meaning of water saving, and our concerns existed purely on a superficial basis. I contested that this was because our droughts weren't so dangerous as those in a land mass made up of mostly arid desert, but I still didn't know many examples of British concern for water usage to back up my weak argument.

The growing awareness of our need to conserve the resources handed to us by mother nature, however, has increased the number of water saving gadgets on the market. It's time to encompass these gadgets into our lives and put us Brits back on the water saving map. Click on the image below to start our gallery of the best new gadgets around.

I most know Natalia Imbruglia for being a singer (and sometimes an actress) but it seems she's also a campaigner for environamental issues! She's teamed up with Ecover to make the film below about the importance of water cycles.

Natalie said: "There's often an abundance of water in the UK, so it's easy to forget the very real issues of water shortage and pollution in other parts of the world. The video is a great way to learn more and offers some really simple tips on how we can all make a difference."

Please visit Natalie's guest spot on Water Aid's site, where you can also order a free watercare pack to find out how hard your money can work to solve problems of safe water and sanitation in Ethiopia

eco shower.jpgWe've talked a lot about saving electricity this week, but what about saving water? If you want to keep an eye on how much you're washing down the plughole, this fun new gadget, the 'eco showerdrop' will be your new best friend. And if you're taking showers to avoid wasting water, the results it gives may just surprise you...

Related: Review: The Oxygenics aerating shower head

ecover_water_aid.jpgUsing Ecover products helps you to reduce your 'chemical splash' and keep things clean without polluting in the process. But what about the amount of water you use to do those chores? Ecover have all sorts of inspirational goodies on offer to make sure we waste as little as possible. Follow the jump to find out how to get your free water-saving kit, complete with stickers and more...

rainwater harvesting.jpg
We Brits are used to whinging about the water that never seems to stop falling from the sky, so why not turn the Monsoon-like weather into something positive this summer?

One way to do this is by 'harvesting' rainwater, making use of this ever-abundant resource and freeing your household from reliance on mains water. It used to be difficult to do this if you didn't have a lot of space, but now there are plenty of options for rainwater collection, with harvesting units available from specialist companies like RainWater Harvesting. Specially-installed collection tanks can help you out in your water-saving quest -- whether you live in a city flat or a rural smallholding. Read on after the jump to find out what water-saving solutions are on offer.

Related: Save water with a 'hippo' in your cistern | Video review: Oxygenics aerating shower head | How to calculate your 'water footprint'

hippo water saver.jpgIf you're concerned that you and your family are sending gallons of potentially useful water (literally) down the pan, help could be at hand from Hippo the Water Saver; a simple and cheap bit of kit that reduces the amount of water wasted by your loo.

The hippo is made from a squishy plastic composite that opens up "origami style" when placed inside the cistern. It absorbs excess water, and When the toilet is flushed, the water confined within the Hippo is the volume saved. The hippo has a lifetime guarantee, and works with most toilets, saving at least 33% of the water we regularly flush away. A pack of 3 Hippos costs just £7.99 from Hippo the Watersaver

Related: Know your water footprint

water footprint coffee.jpg
Don't be fooled into thinking that you're a saint for having showers instead of baths or for turning off the tap while you brush your teeth. There's a lot more to water saving than meets the eye, and waterfootprint is here to set you straight on the matter.

Anything that we consume, be it food, clothing, gadgets or whatever, requires water in varying amounts for its production. So the point is it's good to have an idea of how much water has been used in getting a given product to you. For example, according to the site, the total water footprint of one cup of coffee is 140 litres -- and I'll bet that's quite a bit more agua than you put in the kettle, even if you weren't using an eco-friendly model...

If that sounds alarming, help is at hand with this water footprint calculator you can use to monitor your own personal water usage based on where you live. It doesn't give much in the way of advice on how to improve your score (other than turning vegetarian -- it takes a shocking 16 thousand litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef -- but it does get you thinking about a subject that even the greenest among us often forget.

flood3.jpgIn the wake of a summer which saw many parts of Britain a bit too waterlogged for comfort, it is essential that Britain moves faster in its implementation of flood prevention recommendations, the Environment Agency's chief executive, Lady Young, warned yesterday.

After the summer's serious flooding, the Environmental Agency faced a deluge of criticism - to the extent that flood defence chiefs were told they should pay back the huge bonuses they'd received days before the flooding - when it was revealed that it had failed to meet both its key flood defence targets.

Oxygenating (or 'aerating') shower heads are said to reduce the amount of water your shower uses, without hindering its performance. In our video review, Katie Lee puts an Oxygenics aerating shower to the test, direct from her bathroom: this one is available at £59 from Natural Collection.

healthy_water2.jpgIn yesterday's Guardian a reader asked "Watching those pictures of water being pumped out of flood-stricken areas got me thinking: how much energy does it take to produce all our mains water?" It's a good question, and one that Leo Hickman answered after some serious calculations. Everyday in the UK we use 19 billion litres of tap water, and in one year the figure is seven cubic kilometres! Between 2% and 3% of the UK's electricity is used to process and 'deliver' this water to us in our homes, and this creates 0.5% of our carbon emissions. Hickman's conclusion was that a litre of water has a footprint of 0.298 grammes, and said "even if you had one very full bath - about 150 litres - every day for a year, overall it would represent just 15kg of greenhouse gas emissions. That's about what the average car produces over 80 kilometres."

[via The Guardian]

floods.jpgAlan Simpson, labour MP for Nottingham South, has written in The Guardian that we need to learn from European countries about flood defences, particularly the Netherlands with 60% of its land actually below sea-level. The Dutch approach incorporates flood water into the design of new homes, in the shape of floating homes and allocated safe flood zones for excess water. In Germany, planning laws have been tightened to maintain a site’s current water soakaway capacity even if built on.

uk%20flooding.jpgThis morning I woke to an urgent text from my mother warning me that there were problems with the water supply in my area. Worried, I went to the website for our water supply company to read their ‘special situation report’.
It turned out that the torrential rain we've been having had overwhelmed their system and some rainwater had flooded a chlorine treatment tank and the resultant mixture had got into the supply before the system could be shut down. There was no need to panic, the water company advised, just to boil water for drinking and washing until further notice. They also advised anyone who felt ill to ring NHS Direct!

Stop press! Water-saving toilets (that flush)

toilet.jpgThere's one unavoidable problem with low-flush lavatories that doesn't delight even the greenest among us: they, er, don't flush very well. I discovered this to my cost on a recent visit to a green restaurant which I won't name, because I really like the place, and wouldn't want to use anything as trivial as a toilet against them. But let's just say it put me off my lunch...

Anyway, the good news is that there's a new loo on the block called a 'High Efficiency Toilet' (HEC) that's not only green but flushes like a dream and it's been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a new program called Watersense. There's some detailed info on how they tested it here, and it sounds pretty effective to me!

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