Tomorrow's money savers: The WashUP

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A lot of the "green" movement seems focused on designing gadgets, clothes, and other items that are, essentially, status symbols. After all, while a hybrid car can save a great deal of gasoline, it also sends a message to the world about the driver's politics, values, and ability to afford an expensive new car.

The same goes for bamboo clothing, hemp hats, designer totes that say "I Am Not a Paper Bag," and all the other high-end fripperies that wealthy people are using to show their environmental bona fides.

The other day, I saw a t-shirt that said "Green Is the New Black." I couldn't agree more: sustainability has become something to wear on your sleeve, instead of a way to live.While I guess that every little bit helps, I'm far more impressed with the subtle, low-key ways that people are finding to reduce their impact on the environment. For example, driving a 14 year-old Geo Metro does more to reduce carbon emissions than buying most hybrids. Similarly, fueling up with waste vegetable oil is a subtle but impressive way to save money and petroleum.

With that in mind, I am particularly impressed with Sevin Coskun's "WashUP." Basically a combination clothes washer and toilet, the WashUP saves wastewater from the laundry and uses it to power the toilet. This is a simple, elegant solution that will rarely be seen by strangers but can reduce the water bill, increase home convenience, and cut back on wastewater. Besides that, it looks really cool.

Right now, the WashUP is in the prototype stage, but there seems to be a lot of interest in it. With any luck, we might see it in production before too long. In the meantime, it's nice to know that there are people out there coming up with elegant, efficient solutions to the problem of reduced resources!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. The last time he washed his clothes in the toilet, the transit cops almost arrested him.

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