06 August 2009

This puts the P in PSA

This video was making the rounds across the wide expanse of the Internet yesterday and it hits on a topic I haven't barked about in far too long. I'll get to that in a sec, in the meantime, get a load of this:

The ad's playing on Brazilian TV right now and translated into English it reads something like this:
Pee in the shower! We want everyone to do it! Men! Women! Children! Brazilians! Or not! Nobles! Commoners! Musicians! Sports stars! People half-human, half-monster! Twilight creatures! Brazilian legends! Greek legends! Good people! Not so good people! Artistic geniuses! Scientific geniuses! Circus performers! Lovers! People from other planets! Movie stars!
To sum it up: If you pee, we want you to do it too! (when you flush you waste up to 12 liters of drinkable water / 4380 liters in one year)
Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic Forest.
This ad was produced by Saatchi and Saatchi for the SOS Mata Atlantica Foundation, a non-profit, non-political foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Atlantic Forest. The Atlantic Forest is a unique, enormous forest that encompasses an area that includes coastal Brazil and Uruguay and then extends inland to Paraguay and northernmost Argentina. The Atlantic Forest surrounds some of Brazil's major population centers. It's a fragile, wildly productive ecosystem and Brazilians are right to be concerned about how their activities impact this region.

Like everywhere else in the developed and developing world, urban Brazil has water problems. One of the many reasons countries around the world are having water problems is the omnipresence of the flushing toilet. Wise resource use is a bit of a hot button issue of mine. Unfortunately, so much of the "greening" of the world is a marketing campaign that really doesn't accomplish a whole lot. Using less water is hard to make a lot of money from, so it tends to get overlooked. The US leads the world in household water consumption (no surprise there) and the EPA estimates that on average, 27 % of the 400 gallons of potable water consumed by an American household gets flushed down toilets.

I for one would like to applaud the the SOS Mata Altantica Foundation for making what's not a bad idea to begin with palatable to the masses. Well, the Brazilian masses at any rate. Can you imagine something like this showing up during commercial breaks for American Idol? Not bloody likely.

Peeing in the shower would save at least a flush per person per day. It doesn't sound like much but that's 1.6 gallons with a modern, efficient toilet. It's up to seven gallons on an older toilet. Those kinds of changes add up. So whattya say? Who's ready to xixi no banho?


  1. This is very interesting as I always understood that..... Brazil is the country with the most renewable fresh water. (At least it was at one time.)

    Regardless that Canadian Rivers discharge close to 7% of the WORLD'S renewable water supply, we too are hearing similar campaigns but ours are from levelS of Government.

    We are being told only to flush out of necessity. Of course it is in both official languages and not near as entertaining.

  2. As I understand it, the problem world wide is a sewage disposal problem. So even when there's ample water, sewage treatment systems are overtaxed. Most of the world's systems still use technology that's 100 years old and they operate at maximum capacity as it is. In fast growing parts of the world, population growth out paces sewage capacity pretty quickly.

    Also true is that water available for treatment to make into drinking water isn't the same thing as actually having a safe water delivery system. Florida has the highest rainfall in the lower 48 on the whole. We get upwards of 65 inches a year in most parts of the state. Yet, water that sits on the surface for any period of time gets fouled quickly due to our climate and since no one bothers to gather rain water, we live in a constant state of drought alert.

    Getting fresh, safe water to a world population over 6 billion and then disposing of the wastewater they create is a problem years in the making and will take years to solve. So in the meantime, I'm going to take a page from our Brazilian friends and start peeing in the shower. Well, since I usually do anyhow, I'll start admitting it now. Hah!


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