California is in the middle of a water crisis, yet simple technologies that can help save 100s of gallons a year are not being adopted. While traveling in Japan several years ago I encountered a variety of interesting toilets. Of course many American’s have heard of the famous bidet toilet seats that will wash you after you have done your business, but an older toilet design is that which drew oct interest to me. These toilets had little sinks and faucets on the toilet tank.
With the toilet tank sink designs users are able to wash their hands with the water that will fill the toilet tank in preparation for the next flush. The 5-6 liters of water that are stored in the toilet tank are plenty for users to wash their hands. The faucet automatically dispenses water into the sink on the top of the toilet tank serving as an excellent reminder to engage in hygiene.
In the United States there are several versions available as a quick search online will prove. Some, such as SinkPositive
from North Carolina, are affordable at around $139. These adjustable units let you retrofit your existing toilet. Some imported designs are much more sophisticated and accordingly more expensive. Regardless on price, the technology is available and not being widely adopted. Is there a market opportunity in marketing this sort of simple grey water system? Do small steps such as a toilet tank sink help pave the way to the adoption of more grey water systems?
What if we could make a social movement with the exclusive focus of getting people to sit down and share food who normally would be across a table from each other? I am talking about putting a table out on the street with chairs and serving food for no cost to whoever would like to join.
Over the past several years a friend and I have experimented with hosting dinner parties for up to 30 people on a monthly basis. We invited a large cross segment of our friends and encouraged people to bring their own wine as well as making a small donation to cover the cost of dinner. These dinners have been great fun and given people a great opportunity to mingle and talk about many of pressing issues of our day. Several couples have met at our events and many people became great friends. However, the group was ultimately not very diverse and we weren’t doing much more than having a great evening with an extended group of friends. I am proposing something different.
We could acquire food and low to no cost from local farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants that would otherwise go to waste and cook a large vegetarian stew . We could practice radical inclusion and sit down with whoever would like to join. The event could happen outdoors where we can engage with those around us. There would be no money involved, but this is a not charity, soup kitchen or otherwise specifically for the underserved and in need of food. I would like to address the need of increasing compassion and empathy, of combating loneliness and alienation, of creating a civil society.
The benefit of sitting down and sharing food are enormous and I argue a fundamental building block of civil society. Outside of the holidays here in the United States it is rare to be forced into civil conversation with people who may hold widely differing views. This would provide just such an occasion. By making the food vegetarian it is both possible to reduce costs and be as inclusive as possible.