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These students are on a mission to reduce water consumption


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The Lanes Group, a national drainage specialist, has partnered with students at the University of Salford to solve one of the world's major problems: water consumption. Ideas ranged from toilet grates to daily shower limits, but ultimately only three top ideas were selected.

Along with the competition the group also commissioned a study on student water usage. Their results indicate that students waste the equivalent of more than two baths of water daily – about 180 litres.

According to the study, which focused on 18-24 year olds, students are leaving taps running for an average of 15 minutes per day. They're also spending about an hour and a half in the shower over the course of a week, and flushing the toilet instead of throwing items like tissues and q-tips in the bin.

In order to tackle such wastage, three students came up with the below ideas:

First prize went to biology student John Kearney, who came up with a plan to change the bottles used to contain oil used in fryers and chip pans at home and in food establishments.

New bottles would be divided into two parts – one half containing fresh oil, and the other half featuring a wider mouth so that old, waste oil can be stored. The entire bottle would have the ability to withstand high heat, so that consumers can immediately deposit oil with less waste.

Letting old oil fall into the empty half of the bottle makes for a cleaner and more effective method of cleanup, something Kearney said had perplexed him while cooking at home. With this bottle users could also contact local chemical companies about possible uses for old fats and oils, meaning less oil and fat is poured down the drain, blocking sewer systems.

Following Kearney in second place was zoology student Mason Dillon, who also looked to oil as a source of inspiration. Dillon suggests creating household oil and fat bins, like those used for recycling, that can be taken to a recycling centre and used in supermarkets.

Dillon's plan would include getting in touch with local councils to make this method of depositing simpler and more commonplace for people looking to get rid of their household oils easily. He would also like to create a Facebook campaign to inform the public about the problems with rinsing oil down the drain, leading more people to take part in the initiative.

In third place came environmental management student Matthew Holroyd, who moved away from oil-related issues and focused on washing machines. In his plan, an ultraviolet light would be attached to the inside of the washing machine to kill bacteria – shortening cycle lengths – and a low flow, high pressure nozzle would be attached in the drum.

Through this combination of stronger nozzles and shorter wash cycles, water would be used more efficiently and users could get their laundry done more easily. The nozzle would allow hot and cold water to run through the same tap, which would eliminate the wastage association with waiting for water to change temperature.

It's not too hard to cut back, though, and saving money on water bills can be made easy. Save the Student suggests washing full loads of laundry and dishes, steaming vegetables instead of boiling them and replacing worn tap washers are all good places to start.

In addition to some good old-fashioned water-saving efforts like boiling less water and flushing the toilet less, perhaps the above ideas will lead to even more progress and less waste when it comes to student water usage.

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