In countries with water shortages, saving every drop is essential. Alberto Vasquez’s simple method: a low-tech collector that sits on the floor of a shower.
The Gris is made up of four interlocking cells that slope gently down to the center. Water is funneled into one cell at a time, filling each successively. When needed, the cells unhinge so they can be carried away for another use–say, to flush a toilet or irrigate some plants.
Vasquez, who founded the Igen Design firm, has both Hungarian and Colombian parents. He grew up partly in a village in the Andes and saw how water is a precious commodity.
“When people take a shower there, they take a bucket in with them. I thought I could use the same process and make it more effective. The bucket collects about 30% of the water. My [device] can collect about 95%.”
Vasquez has built a prototype, but is still looking for financing to bring the product to market. He estimates it would retail at between $20 and $40, which would make it just about affordable to the people he’s targeting.
He says the shortages in his parents’ village have become worse in the last decade, with the dry season becoming longer and the rainy season getting shorter. “It’s not only an ecological problem, it’s more like a social problem. It leads to a lot of conflict,” he says.
There are already gray water collection systems available–for instance pipes that link the shower with the toilet. But Vasquez argues these are expensive, as they require re-plumbing. His invention, by contrast, could be used by anyone anywhere.