Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


November 18, 2007

Greenwashing: The Evolve Shower Head

Category: Companies,Household,Little Things,Save Water,Tips – Tom Harrison – 10:41 pm

We’re looking for a good low-flow shower head. I have found some good options and am looking for suggestions. But in my hunt, I found one of the more egregious examples of green-washing I have seen recently. I found a shower head whose feature is that it turns off automatically when the water is warm. Hmm, I thought, how could that save water?

In my search, I came across the “Evolve” shower head. This shower head doesn’t actually use less water when you’re in the shower. Instead, this company has made the alarming (although probably true) assumption that the following series of events takes place:

  1. Turn on water
  2. Wait for it to warm up
  3. Walk around the house doing other things
  4. Get in the warm shower
  5. Take a shower as normal

They had me up until step 3. Um, I let the water run for a few seconds until it is just beginning to get warm, step in, shower quickly, and get out. From their “vision” page:

…to save a little time we typically turn on the shower and sneak away to do something else while waiting for the water to warm-up.

We brush our teeth, use the toilet, make our beds, we even hug our kids … When we get back to the shower it’s warm and ready …

Oh, how sweet, they hug their kids! Perhaps a quick drive to the supermarket in the Hummer to pick up an egg for breakfast? I am not joking about the SUV thing, check this out, from the same page:

Using innovation and technology is better and more effective than asking for sacrifice and behavior change as means of saving water and energy. For example, don’t ask people to give up their SUVs, offer them an affordable hybrid SUV instead.

Ok, I am taking a deep breath. In. Out. Nope, I still don’t feel better. Look, I don’t disagree with the idea that technology is a great thing and if we are to get our way out of this problem (or defer it), technology will certainly be the main answer. But the notion that we can solve this problem with no behavior change presupposes that none of us citizens needs to pay that much attention to the whole matter; it will be taken care of it for us by all those great corporations out there, I guess.

Please. Let’s take a moment to agree that in order to make real change happen, even if just small changes, we need to do more than decide that we’re not going to let hot water run down the drain for some indefinite period of time whilst we hug our kids. We need to ask at least that people spend a few moments to think about ways they can change their assumptions about what sacrifice means! Changing behavior is easy; sacrifice isn’t

One definition of “sacrifice” is endure the loss of; “He gave his life for his children”; “I gave two sons to the war” I haven’t begun to make any such sacrifices in my life. I have not known anyone that has died as a result of the energy crisis or global warming. I have not suffered hardship or pain, or even discomfort as a result of my little changes. I have not been forced to move, or give up anything I hold dear. I read many definitions of this word online, and none of them implied that sacrifice involves a minor, costless change.

(One sacrifice we seem somehow willing to make is sending our young men and women off to war. That’s sacrifice. And in 20 or 30 years, I feel confident that it will be evident that our current war is one of the first volleys in a war over energy.)

We must change our behaviors indeed, by understanding that little habits we didn’t realize were actually costly, then simply stopping. We don’t need to buy a fancy new shower head that enables our continued wasteful behavior. We just need to stop wasting.

I don’t mean to pick on this particular company; in fairness they also have a low-flow 1.59 GPM shower head (although they seem almost apologetic about being green). My point is that if all we’re doing is consuming more things that enable our wasteful behaviors, like fancy shower heads, we’re not really making progress. We can change our behaviors. If we do not, we will indeed have to make real sacrifices.

Anyway, if anyone knows of a good shower head, write a comment. We want one with a “navy button” that slows or stops the flow while we soap up or my wife shaves. We have tried the spartan ones that work basically the same way as putting your thumb over the end of a garden hose; they make less water come out more forcefully. While we’ll give this option another try, I was hoping that there was something nicer that still saved water. After looking at spartan models for $4.50, and expensive ones that claim a more luxurious shower (but with lousy user reviews).

25 Comments

  1. Speaking as a project manager for a high end remodeling company, I am thrilled to find an easy to install common sense product that I can introduce to clients without having to get into a discussion about whether Al Gore is a demon or a saint. In reading through these many comments, I think it is important to realize that not everyone is going to be motivated in the same way. After wondering for a couple of decades what a gas tax that would make fuel more expensive (+$4.00) would do for miles driven (its reduced it for the first time in a generation- New Yorker 8/11/08), lets not forget that some people are practically immune from financial incentives. But something that speaks to efficiency usually gets attention better than moralizing. I am old enough, my eco-sense shaped by the ’73 gas crisis, to remember that “we” once thought that by showing a good example- recycling, shorter showers, etc. we could convince the world to come along and be a better place. I’m all for individual effort. But I’m wary of thinking that the things that motivate me- a love of a planet, is going to motivate the average consumer. Let’s cut the marketing people at Evolve some slack and realize that everyone of their devices installed will be a drops in the bucket of savings.

    Comment by John — August 8, 2008 @ 2:29 am

  2. John —

    Yeah, moralizing (and spouting “truths”) doesn’t really accomplish anything.

    I atoned for my sins in a subsequent post even before the nice guys at Evolve sent me a shower head to try. We liked it pretty well, and it’s a great product — no ifs, ands, or buts.

    I recently bared my soul and posted several items relating to global warming. My hope, which seems to have been realized, was that I learned, through the response of people who disagree with what I believe to be true can help me understand how, and perhaps more importantly why our views differ.

    I too grew up and had views shaped by the 73 gas crisis, the Clean Air Act, and they years that followed. I wonder if we’ll be lucky enough to have the same outcome as in 73, where, after some rather significant efforts, things seemed to be getting better.

    Anyway, you’re right about what motivates people. Abstract things don’t motivate people; real things like $4.00/gallon gas do. We need more of that, I guess.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — August 8, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  3. I have owned the RoadRunner for ~ 6 months. It works great. I save hot water and water volume. It looks sharp and provides very adequate rinsing. I’ll buy a second. I am not easily convinced and I have been in the water purfication business for 20 years so I have an eye towards conservation and use. Solid product and delivers on savings.

    Comment by Jerry Gatch — September 12, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  4. Dude, GREAT blog. This whole site that you have set up is top-notch. Well done. I stumbled across it .
    I’m really looking forward to reading all of your archives. Terrific job, keep it up!

    Comment by Laban Paul — July 28, 2009 @ 2:05 am

  5. Thanks!

    Comment by Tom Harrison — July 28, 2009 @ 7:09 am

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