Thursday, 14 April 2011

Living in a Water World: how we use it & abuse it

Here is a little pre-weekend reminder of just how valuable and vital water is from friends over at While here in the UK water waste may be a little less extreme, the graphic below illustrates well the unsustainable use of water in many parts of the world. The fact that this waste continues is not due to a lack of options - rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, waterless toilets, composting toilets and water filtration and re-use systems are all readily available to many - and the real problem lies in people's attitudes towards water.

At Back to Tap, we want to encourage people to consider how and why they use water the way they do. Is purchasing bottled water healthy and environmentally sound way to behave? What other options exist are available that will allow us to move away from wasteful behaviour?

Next week, we will be looking at a number of exciting innovations for water conservation from Lelongwe to London.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your tap water!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Green Roofs Filter Water & Create Space

Back to Tap is looking forward to getting a new green roof project started. A little innovation can go a long way to making cities more liveable and improving drainage. Especially in places like London, where the sewerage system regularly overflows due to heavy rain, green roofs and permeable pavements provide an useful alternative. Does anyone else have ideas for more sustainable urbanisation?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Of Taps and Toilets

Back to Tap was amused to find that a new Toilet Museum has opened in Wiesbaden, Germany. Like taps and everything plumbing and water related, toilets don't often get the attention they deserve, but proper hygiene and sanitation infrastructure are key to building healthy communities.

Water is essential for life, and having access to clean water can often mean the difference between a healthy and prosperous life and disease. The most recent illustration of this has been a cholera outbreak in Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where poor water treatment and substandard water infrastructure and drainage systems have led to the unnecessary death of over 50 people.

Here in London, Back to Tap is proud to work with the ARCHIVE Institute to raise awareness of the links between health and housing and water issues in particular. Basic steps can be taken in home design to reduce the risk of illness for some of the world's most vulnerable urban populations, and Back to Tap hopes that ARCHIVE's work will change the way people think about water, design and health in cities around the world.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Water Gardens and the Urban Environment

Back to Tap has been in touch with the pioneers over at the Science Barge to discuss their prototype, sustainable urban farm and environmental education centre that is now in its third year of operations. It is the only fully functioning demonstration of renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York City. And it is floating on the Hudson River!

The Barge grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce with zero net carbon emissions, zero chemical pesticides, and zero runoff. It is powered by solar, wind, and biofuels, and irrigated by rainwater and purified river water. By providing an accessible and fun platform for exploring urban food production and sustainable energy, the project helps to change attitudes towards the urban environment.

As part of the expansion of the Science Barge's gardening mandate, a greenhouse has been built on top of a local school, and it is great to see innovation and primary education literally feeding off of each other. The greenhouse relies on an advanced hydroponics system to grow fruit and vegetables, providing a great science class tutorial as well as enhancing the nutrition of diminutive New Yorkers. Schools everywhere should have gardens as a focal point for educational, nutritional and ecological advancement.

Barges in London (above) and in Boston (below) which inspire us to explore ecologically sound ways of interacting with the urban rivers.

Here in London, Back to Tap is excited about the Barge Garden Competition being held in Boston - the honourable mentions on their blog offer inspiration for London to think creatively about how we interact with the environment. In particular, we look forward to future work that re-examines our relationship with water, the earth most precious resource.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Can the World Keep Up with Growing Demand for Water?

A little food for thought when we turn on the taps in the morning from our friends at Back to Tap particularly enjoyed the runner up showing the projected increase in urban water consumption to 2030.


The team used sponges and water to create a powerful visual display of just how much water thirsty humans will be drinking in coming years. Their findings provide one more reason to stop using wasteful water bottling and to think more seriously about how we manage all of the world's natural resources, including water.

Friday, 1 April 2011

UNICEF Works to Provide Clean Water in Libya

UNICEF has just set up a new transit station on the Libyan border and one of their major challenges is providing clean drinking water to the growing population. Here at Back to Tap, we have been considering work on a low cost filter for just such situations.

Back to Tap hopes that everyone fleeing the war in Libya and surrounding areas will find a safe refuge in neighbouring countries, and that freshwater will continue to flow for all.