Green Pages — Water by Computer, Solar Flashlight

Circa 2008
Wording Green Pages

As the new Green Guy, I thought it’d be interesting to start off with a review of some typically guy technologies and activities that have an eco-friendly edge.


Falcon Waterfree Technologies, as the name implies, does its business without H2O. In fact, the company estimates that each of its products saves an average of 40,000 gallons of fresh water per year. If you happened to make it to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, you may have had the pleasure of using the product.

What’s the product, you ask? I’m talking water-free urinals. Now, if you’re like my wife, you may have let out a disgusted ewww! But consider this: As much as five percent of all fresh water is used to flush away urine. With these new-fangled urinals, however, water does not need to be transported to the unit nor away from it. In addition, no energy is expended on the back end to treat water.

Not only do water-free urinals contribute to our environmental well-being, but they also save money. For starters, they save 100 percent of the water that would be going through the urinals, and therefore, 100 percent of water and sewer charges. Moreover, there’s little maintenance, as there are no moving parts. Because no hard water runs through them, drain lines remain free of calcification. The only maintenance involves changing the cartridge three to four times a year.

This technology is not only water-free, but also odor- and trouble-free, in terms of operation. The urinal consists of a vitreous china or stainless steel fixture and a cartridge that fits into a drainpipe at the bottom of the urinal.

This unique sustainable product was not only a showcase water conservation technology at the Beijing Olympics, but it also helped a city of 18 million people accommodate the additional needs of Olympic visitors and athletes. Based on average annual water savings of 40,000 gallons per urinal, the 165 water-free urinals in Beijing will save 6.6 million gallons of water per year.

I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from the urinal of Olympic champions.

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Cyber-rain isn’t something out of a futuristic novel. It’s here today, and gives homeowners, property managers, building owners and landscape contractors an easy way to save 30 percent to 70 percent on their landscape watering bills with the use of a personal computer. Los Angeles-based Cyber-Rain develops these smart irrigation systems for home and business.

“From day one, our goal has been to build products that will help people use technology to save money and protect the earth,” says Judy Guido, chief marketing officer for the company. “Watering creates a major drain on our natural resources, and smart irrigation can play a major role in saving water.”

By using personal computers to wirelessly control sprinkler systems, CyberRain enables users to program their watering schedules, set reminders about when to fertilize, and even measure water savings through an easy-to-use intuitive interface.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California even offers local residents rebates for water saving devices installed at their homes, including the CyberRain smart wireless irrigation controller. Not in Southern California? Check with your local water district to see what rebates they offer for this kind of device.

The Cyber-Rain system costs about $350, and is estimated to pay for itself within a few months. Ka-ching!

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More than one billion batteries are disposed of every year in the United States! As an owner of a dozen flashlights for garage work, night hiking and camping, I’ve certainly contributed my share of these toxics tubes to the waste stream. Sure, nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries help reduce the amount of used battery disposal, but eventually even they wear out. With the solar flashlight, there are no more worries about disposing used batteries. This hybrid product actually taps sunlight and indoor lighting to recharge itself. Properly juiced, the Hybrid Solar Light works day or night. The unit even contains a back-up battery, which kicks in if the solar capacitor’s charge has run down. That ensures that there’ll be light when you need it.

Using super-bright lifetime LED bulbs, the solar flashlight generates the greatest amount of light with the least amount of environmental impact. Bulbs are rated at 11 continuous years of burn time or 22 years of burn time when turned on only at night. The flashlight comes fully charged and holds its charge for more than three years. It’s convenient and pays for itself by eliminating the need to replace expensive batteries and bulbs. So go forth into that dark night!

by Renne Gardner

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