Save water, or the goldfish gets it

Sensemaking / Save water, or the goldfish gets it

04 Mar 2011

Can a pull on the heartstrings prompt us to change old habits?

Would sustainability at home come more naturally if resource use was a clear, emotional choice?

That’s the idea behind Yan Lu’s ‘Poor Little Fish’ sink, which has an unmistakable emotional tactic to encourage water conservation.

The sink user must actively consider the life of a goldfish, whose bowl above the sink slowly drains, while they wash their hands. As the hand-activated sensor tap turns on, a solenoid valve releases fresh water through the faucet into the sink.

At the same time, a micro pump draws water out of the fish bowl into a separate pipe, to be held in a tank behind the wall, seemingly placing the fish in imminent danger.

When hands move away from the sensor and the tap stops running, the valve turns off and the micro water pump stops working. The held water is then re-released with a siphon action, refilling the fish bowl.

The water only sinks to a level safe for the fish, before being activated to ‘recharge’, restoring the tank and the fish bowl water to equal levels.

This sink design is still in prototype stage, but spurred on by considerable interest, Yan is developing it for commercialisation, scoping out suitable sponsors and manufacturers.

Yan is a London-based Chinese designer/engineer who frequently works with emotional imagery to encourage sustainability. “There is a huge disconnect between our everyday behaviour and the images we see about our changing environment,” he says. “With Poor Little Fish, I tried to bring these types of images to the human scale, showing the immediate cause and effect and thus encourage an immediate change in human behaviour.” Other ideas include the aptly named ‘Melting Wax Lamp’, featuring a shade crafted from wax, which melts into interesting and random shapes when in use, but threatens to disappear if left on for too long. While his ‘Annual Ring Tissue’ draws a link between a tree’s life span, and paper use, by visually representing its annual rings.

- Emily Braham

Image credits: Yan Lu

What might the implications of this be? What related articles have you seen?

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