In April, Global Exchange and Green America treated Bay Area residents to another fantastic event, hosting a Green Festival. Usually, the groups co-produce the event in November in San Francisco, but recently decided they were just too much fun to do once per year. The more the merrier, I say.
I visit the Green Festival every year, and this year plan to visit them in other cities, and since I’m a microenterprise kind of guy, I’m always on the lookout for cool, simple, innovations that are a simultaneous game changing technology and a “duh, why didn’t I think of that?” moment. This year’s SMIGG (simplest, most innovative green gadget) award goes to JB Matsol, the company that produces the UZLOW (pronounced “use-low”, a hint to its objective).
I immediately saw the value of the UZLOW and made the purchase. It cost $20, tax included, but the potential made this item far more valuable. What the UZLOW does is it empower users to control the flow of water from their showerheads, without affecting the temperature of the water, and requiring no more than reaching up with a soapy hand and pushing a lever. The lever is easy to find even if there’s shampoo in your eyes (just follow the water).
In open position, the UZLOW allows the regular amount of water to flow through. This is useful when you’re covered with soap and need to rinse off. The lever is fully adjustable, so fully open, it’s full flow. Half closed, and you get about half that much flow. Fully closed, and, well, it’s a bit of a trickle. So, when you’re soaping up, shaving, shampooing, or doing anything else that doesn’t necessarily require a fully flowing shower, you can flip the switch and start saving money. Regardless, the power is in the hands of the person taking the shower, which has traditionally been one of the challenges associated with low flow shower heads. Some people love them, some don’t. Housemates have squabbled over them. People with particularly thick hair don’t tend to like low flow shower heads because they can’t get all the conditioner out of their hair. (There was a particularly funny Seinfeld episode about when Jerry and Kramer’s apartment building tried to go a little greener. Kramer’s hair became, well, normal.)
So what’s the big deal? Sure, the UZLOW can save a couple of gallons per shower. But will it really amount to anything? Of course, that depends on the scale at which JB Matsol is able to grow and market the product. And, of course, how much people actually use it. Since installing the UZLOW at my house, I can report that everyone in the house loves it. Savings don’t end at water, of course. Depending on the fuel used to heat your water, the UZLOW can help significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. So not only is there no sacrifice, there’s also immediate savings, and a feeling that you’re having a global impact. Bravo JB Matsol! Congrats on winning the first SMIGG.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com, a membership site that offers members tools and resources for utilizing sustainability as a management strategy for their small businesses.
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