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dual flush public toilet

Promoting plain language in public toilets

dual flush public toiletWhen engineers and technical writers tackle instructions for public toilets, someone may have to step up and provide some plain-language, every-man translations!

Up for pee, down for poop. Simple! Spotted in a highway rest stop, kudos to the anonymous, water-aware doo-gooder that added the simplified Sharpie version to the dual flush toilet instructions provided.

Note to technical types: if your toilet how-to needs a schematic drawing, the instructions likely need editing!

Note to everyone else: An easy mnemonic for these devices: remember to PUSH for number 2! And the handle as well!

sign graffiti on dual flush public toilet

face in the water by bitterjug on flickr

Water obsession support group forming now!

face in the water by bitterjug on flickrWater, water everywhere… consuming your thoughts and dreams, driving your actions and decisions. Dictating your choice of friends, how you spend your time, your money, your goodwill. You have water on the brain, and you may have gone off the deep end, figuratively speaking. You, yes YOU, may be obsessed with water!

Over at ValleyCresttakeson.com (the blog and news arm of Valley Crest Landscape Companies) writer Martha Golea serves up the amusing article, Are You Obsessed with Water Management? After reading Martha’s post I can safely say, “We’ll be right at home in this newly-proposed water-crazies group!” In fact, Martha, in this this high-stakes water obsession game we at ThirstyInSuburbia will call your obsession and raise you one! Read more

My Favorite (Unofficial) Water Conservation PSAs

Water conservation messages are usually 60% boring and 40% preachy; here are two from Australia created by The Chardonnay Club that are just 100% funny. As you might guess, they are not officially sanctioned and, as one video notes in the endframe, “Never ever will be authorized by the Queensland Government Brisbane.” Maybe that’s why I love them!

The first is a parody of government psa spots that urge citizens to report friends & neighbors for water violations. Just call 1-800-DOBBER (For the non-Australians, a dobber is what we’d call a snitch or tattletale.)

“Warren’s Water Warehouse”  is a hysterical take-off on those low-brow, low-fi clearance sale spots we’re all so fond of…

Watch out for the power of the crop tool

Does this water butt make me look phat?

Why, yes it does, because as you surely know by now, collecting rainwater for garden re-use in “water butts” (known as “rain barrels” here in the US) is a smooth conservation move.  Therefore, it’s time to get off your butt and get your own butt installed, and this free guide from Dobbies.com is in fact, pretty phat!

While I was browsing their site I tried hard to dispel the sophomoric giggles about the “butt” double-entendre, but of course I could not. One thing I learned besides water harvesting tips: cropping is a powerful tool in that can be used for nefarious purposes in the hands of the wrong person!

Watch out for the power of the crop tool

Shut your mouth and get your Speedos

From the offbeat water conservation tipline: The Vienna, Austria Council is getting pretty fed up with constantly refilling their swimming pools because people keep swallowing the water while men insist on plunging in and out of the pool in their water-sucking Bermuda shorts! And they’re requesting that it stops. Immediately. Thank you. From Telegraph.co.uk,

Swimmers in Austria told to stop swallowing water: A budget-conscious council in Austria has requested that swimmers stop swallowing water in a bid to save money.

According to a survey carried out by managers at Vienna’s 18 public swimming pools bathers are drinking 5,000 litres of chlorinated pool water a day.

Official Martin Kotinsky said: “A lot of water gets taken out in the material every time a swimmer uses the pool and it has to be replaced.” He pointed out that, as well as replacing water, authorities had to spend £20 on chlorine – £1.11 per pool.

The council is also targeting people who wear Bermuda shorts to go bathing. Tests revealed that the average wearer takes 2.5 litres of water with them trapped in their swimwear every time they get out of the pool.

Mr Kotinsky said: “A lot of water gets taken out in the material every time a swimmer climbs in and out. That means that for every 1,000 visits to the pool we lose 2,500 litres of water.”

Thanks to Julie O’Fee for the tip! Photo: “Speedo Blanco” by Incase on Flickr

Inventors Imagine a Water-Grabbing Fog Farm

This week a study revealed that California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering the state’s treasured coastal redwood trees.

And that’s not all! It potentially endangers these old and passed-over ideas, too, as detailed in a June, 1931 Inventions feature in Modern Mechanix. (Fog Drip May Hold Key to Drought Relief”)

Especially curious is this drawing which illustrates a novel idea:

Inventors in California once proposed to set up a tall screen of wire netting to catch fog near the coast and to store the water in reservoirs, from which it could be piped to adjacent farmlands. This beautiful plan was knocked in the head by a cold-blooded meteorologist, Dr. W. J. Humphreys, of the Weather Bureau. Humphreys showed that a screen 250 feet high—the cost of which would doubtless be prohibitive—would provide irrigation water for a strip of land only about half a mile wide back of it. However, the scheme may still have possibilities, and inventors are continuing their investigations of the odd phenomena in various parts of the world. Their findings have proved interesting

Following are the article’s first two pages, but you can read the entire thrilling feature here!

Speaking the Universal Language of Cute

These spots from Nickelodeon Latin American are meant to teach kids “green” behaviors, but people of all ages can certainly delight in their irresistible cuteness. Sadly, I happen to know that people of all ages can learn a few tips from the not-so-elementary lessons!

Little green box-guy “Verdito” was created as a companion to “Cubit,” who’s the little orange box-guy mascot of Nick Latin America. I love these spots because they’re so simple, funny and appealing that we don’t notice any age, language or cultural barriers. Just the message. So listen up.


This spot promotes last October’s Global Handwashing Day:

Nag About Water Savings the Modern, Twitter Way

I’m old fashioned, I guess… my method of encouraging conservation around the house involves nag, nag and nag some more. I’ve seen the light though via Jason Garland (jgarland79water on Twitter). His spiffy new water meter keeps careful tabs on water use, then sends out a seemingly never-ending series of tweets about it!

If a high annoyance level will motivate us to change our behavior, this ought to do the trick! Jason’s twitterfeed now boasts nearly 4,500 tweets, every single one of which reminds him of his daily and monthly totals.

Below, see Jason’s You Tube video showing the tweet-happy meter…which looks to me pretty similar to the old-style bill-mailing variety!

According to his You Tube page, his equipment source was http://www.watermeters.com/)

Se vedete le immagini saranno hai capito?

If you see the images will you understand?

Choose Italian or English for this terrific water conservation infographic video by Matteo Bonera (website). Or, do as I did and play a little game with yourself if you don’t speak Italian: watch the first video, then watch the second English version to check how close your understanding was using just the visuals, numbers and context clues.

This little exercise will give you a taste of the challenges in successful visual information design…and the skill and talent needed to create it.

Many Small Choices, One Big Impact

Brand new from GOOD, a leading web provider of infographic splendidness, is the video Your Daily Water Use, produced in conjunction with Whole Foods Market. From their description,

Thirsty? So is everyone else. We’re headed for a water shortage. Here’s how a few simple choices can reduce your daily water use by 1,213 gallons.

The water-saving suggestions on the video include a bit of pesky and perplexing water footprint data, but I suppose I’ll go ahead and make the switch from wine to beer for the greater good…at least through tailgate season. (The video includes a bouncy music track by Dim Dim that sounds a lot like my phone’s built-in ringtone!)