Unilever, the global consumer goods company, has just launched a ‘crowdsourcing’ sustainability competition, inviting people to design a shower that uses less water and energy. Sounds like fun and the company is offering a 10,000-Euro prize pot for the best ideas. The reason is that Unilever wants to design the next-generation shower, which fits well with part of its business – selling shower gels and other washing-related products. Unilever wants to reduce the environmental impact of showering and maybe even the way we take a shower. The reason is simple, and one that we have been discussing on this blog for as long as we’ve been in business – showers guzzle water and the energy used to heat and pump it. The competition is the latest part of the company’s Sustainable Living plan that is looking into all areas of the emissions from the end use of its products. It is working with crowdsourcing specialists eYeka to gather ideas from ‘the crowd’ (that’s most of us!) – great idea and we hope that Unilever finds the shower solution that must be lurking out there somewhere. As it says, there is no guarantee of success with crowdsourcing but it does galvanise people, give them confidence and creates the right conditions for great ideas to see the light of day. You can enter the competition – and we wish you the best of luck. We might even have a go ourselves! The best idea will win a €5,000 prize and four runners up will share €5,000. If your ideas win, you will meet Unilever’s development teams to assess the viability of developing a product. You must propose a cost-effective idea that fits in a typical modern bathroom and which would cut average shower water use to just 10 litres. Now here’s the challenge: your idea must reduce water usage to 10 litres. That’s a tough one, even given that the average shower uses 62 litres of hot water and takes eight minutes, according to research by Unilever, published by the BBC in 2011. The data showed that some people use 136 litres. BusinessGreen editor James Murray quotes Michiel Leijnse, water and innovation brand director for Unilever, as saying that company wants its customers to help “reinvent the shower in a way that reduces its environmental impact while enhancing the user experience”. Michiel Leijnse says: “We all love our morning shower, yet the showering process hasn’t changed in decades. It consumes substantial amounts water, requires a significant amount of energy to heat that water and it isn’t great for the skin.” While we look forward to the next-generation shower at SaveMoneyCutCarbon, we are doing our bit to help consumers and businesses reduce their water use in the shower and wherever there is a tap (fit tap aerators … but that’s another story). We have a partnership with Hansgrohe, an innovative global brand who has a range of the very best eco shower heads including handheld, fixed and rain head that suit all styles and budgets. The easy-to-install eco shower heads utilise sophisticated flow limitation, special spray jets and the mixing of inflowing water with air (about 3 litres of air for every litre of water) to reduce water consumption by up to 45%. We have learned from experience that going green does not mean you have to compromise on shower quality or performance. Normal water droplets just bounce off you so you have to use more water to get wet. The droplets from our Hansgrohe range are much lighter and softer so they burst considerably more easily on the skin, soaking you much more efficiently without splashing everywhere. Our eco shower heads also save energy since less water needs to be heated. In this way your daily contribution to climate protection begins under the shower. These facts are backed up by research from Waterwise, which also advises simply reducing the time spent under the eco shower head. And the money you spend on an eco shower head, like our Hansgrohe range, will be repaid within a year with the cash you save on energy and water bills (if you are metered, which we all will be shortly). So, get your thinking (shower) caps on and join in the creative development being sponsored by Unilever. You might make a phenomenal contribution to all our futures.