Clean water is becoming more and more precious, no matter where you live in the world. A growing population needs more of it, but less is available due to climate change. Tackling this means talking about wastewater, which isn’t a hot topic, but hey, brace yourself. Up to 75 percent of domestic wastewater is “grey water,” the slightly contaminated kind that comes from showers, baths and washing machines. Hydraloop is a device that collects and cleans this stuff to make what they call “household water” suitable for flushing, irrigating and returning the laundry.
The inventor, Dutchman Arthur Valkieser, was inspired to act when he realized how much drinking water is pumped into cisterns to flush the toilets – about 35 liters per person per day. Hydraloop instead flushes with purified gray water, an idea so brilliant that the World Intellectual Property Organization, a UN agency, has recognized it as a tool to help reduce water consumption.
Preparing the plumbing is, according to Hydraloop, “not difficult”, and they give clear instructions. The device takes up about 4.5 m², so no different from any other large refrigerator. (Smaller versions of Hydraloop will be launched next year.) It cleans the greywater in six processes, starting with sedimentation and ending with UV disinfection – but no filters are used, so maintenance is a breeze. With an accompanying app you can pay as much attention to your water savings as you want, but otherwise it just does its job: cleaning and storing the water (300 liters in the Hydraloop H300). The result: you save up to 45 percent in tap water consumption, reduce waste water emissions by up to 45 percent and also lower your overall energy consumption (on average about 400 kWh per year).
Some people may frown and squint at the idea of washing clothes in previously used water, but these are the kind of mental hurdles we have to overcome to live sustainably. Hydraloop’s slogan is “Use water twice”, and it’s an eminently sensible idea. Hydraloop H300, £3,195, hydraloop.com
London-based Nothing caused a stir last year with its Ear (1) earbuds, a brave attempt by a small company to enter an Apple-dominated space. Now we have the phone (1), an equally bold step into a crowded market, but with some eco credentials that saw pre-orders reach around 200,000 units. It has a recycled aluminum frame, half of the plastic parts are made from biobased or recycled materials and are packed in recycled fibres. The battery is replaceable and there is a UK-based repair center to prevent broken phones from being thrown into a dumpster. The camera is exceptional, the housing semi-transparent and distinctive. A smartphone with an emphasis on smart. Nothing Phone (1), £399, nothing.tech
A brush with durability
Billed as the world’s most sustainable electric toothbrush, Suri recognizes the environmental impact of brushing your teeth: four billion toothbrushes that go to landfill or the ocean every year, non-recyclable plastic parts, excessively wasteful packaging, and so on. These brush heads are made from cornstarch, the bristles from castor oil and Suri recycles them for free for UK and US customers. It has an attractive, slim profile that makes most other electric toothbrushes feel rather thick, two settings (“clean every day” or “brush every day”, depending on your mood) and that’s about it, but who needs bells and whistles? After all, you only brush your teeth. (And with a relatively clear conscience.) Suri Toothbrush, £85, trysuri.com
Strange things are happening in this unit that are akin to witchcraft. Put your daily food scraps in the bucket, turn it on and come back a few hours later with the promise of a tub full of soil ready to feed your plants. That’s exactly what it does, using a combination of heat, wear, oxygen, and “helping bacteria,” and the results are quite something. There’s only one minor niggle – the fact that you leave a device on overnight, but the company goes to great lengths to describe its carbon footprint in detail and assures us it’s lower than that of the same waste going to landfill. go. Plus, it handles a particularly unpleasant piece of kitchen admin in a very satisfying way. Lomi kitchen composter, £499, uk.pela.earth
Rainwater is another important and overlooked source of water, which is so easily captured but usually disappears down the drain. Most rain barrels are pretty ugly, but this one was the result of a graduate design project that gained a lot of momentum and has since won a string of awards. A built-in five-litre pitcher automatically fills when it rains, making it easy to use in and around the garden, while excess water drains into the 70-litre raindrop-shaped container below. The rainwater not only reduces tap water consumption, but is also better for plants than tap water: less salts and chemicals, more nitrates. The product is made using wind energy and, as you would expect, is 100 percent recyclable. Elho Pure Raindrop, £269, elho.com