Sunshine, mild breezes, birds chirping… ah, spring.
But before you know it, we’ll all be complaining about the damn heat, and lawns everywhere will look like hay. The city will issue a frantic “don’t water anything” order and those fresh green shoots you see now will be wilted, yellow clumps by August.
Fear not, green thumbs. Paul Needler has the solution for you. Needler, a part-time musician and full-time inventor, has come up with an ingenious plan to keep your garden (whether a large vegetable patch or your own little backyard pride) watered and happy. It’s called the Rain Collector, and works—obviously—by collecting rain, and distributing it, as need be, via spigot and tubing, to the places that need it most.
“The approach I’m taking is ground-up, DIY,” he explains, “It takes too long for governments, municipal or otherwise, to adopt an idea. It took ten years for a green bin to come into effect, and I believe that’s a total waste of time for the Rain Collector. It should be used now, not ten years from now.”
The Rain Collector is big enough to not need continual cloudiness in order to stay full, since it holds 60 gallons. Although the collector is made mainly for those in houses right now (since it connects directly to downspouts), Needler says he’s going to be manufacturing smaller, balcony-sized versions next year. Within five years, he hopes to have collectors handed out like blue boxes.
“There’s no time like the present to start using this kind of device and start conservation now,” he says passionately, “I totally believe in using the individual approach, talking to neighbours, to people who are concerned on an individual level. That kind of thing grows, and awareness spreads.”
Toronto has mandated that all older homes with downspouts into storm sewers be disconnected by 2009. That means downspouts on city homes will work the same as those in the suburbs, with water getting spilled into the yard. “But city homes don’t have a hell of a lot of yard,” says Needler, “so the next logical approach is to try to help Toronto in that mandate, and say, ‘Let’s get these houses off the storm sewer system.’ What can we do with this water, can we harness it? Sure we can.”
More than just being a money-saver, the Rain Collector is one of a gaggle of products jumping onto the green bandwagon. Beyond water conservation, the container itself is made from recycled food bins. Seriously. “It saves the barrels from being chipped up and put in landfills,” he explains, “and it doesn’t create new plastic.”
And no need to worry over West Nile virus; Needler’s created a unique air valve system that keeps the pesky insects out, and water in.
“It’s been made too easy for us, to turn on a tap, flush a toilet,” he says, “The water’s always there. But while there is still time to repair the damage, before it’s too late, we can do something.”
Photos courtesy of Nedco Products.