Drought is one of the most pressing issues affecting the future of the standard of living here in Phoenix. With the threat of water rationing and steep price hikes looming on the horizon for water customers in California, the desert southwest, and in drought-stricken communities worldwide, industrial designers are in a prime position to help improve the experience of water conservation so that consumers are willing to start taking conscious steps toward rethinking their relationship with water usage.
In a research group, several designers sought to understand the depth and complexity of this highly politicized issue by interviewing a wide variety of stakeholders, including sustainability experts, landscapers, water company executives, small business owners, reservoir forest rangers, and many more. Data synthesis led to the conclusion that residential water use is a lifestyle issue, and the only real way to conserve involves a significant shift in the collective idea of an “ideal” home—lawns, pools, and overwatered landscaping contribute to 70% of all water use by residences in the Phoenix area. The only real way to conserve involves increasing population density and creating communal green spaces.
DR. DISH is a dishwashing device that is meant to fit into the high-density living spaces that are rapidly being built in the face of the massive exodus of people into the world’s cities. To help busy apartment and condominium dwellers conserve water and time, DR. DISH converts a standard kitchen sink into a small dishwasher, which uses significantly less water than hand-washing dishes or rinsing dishes before putting them into a conventional dishwasher. Using advanced filtration technology and a powerful rinse cycle, a load dishes can be cleaned with about 2 gallons of water. Fully automating the dishwashing process also saves the user time and minimizes unpleasant contact with food residue and grease.
This device is meant to have a significant impact upon the water use of households that do not have a dishwasher, or simply do not use their dishwasher. With a low target price point and myriad convenient features, DR. DISH is a high-tech solution that promises water savings at a time when every effort toward conservation is absolutely critical. As we move toward a new era in determining water rights and imposing mandatory restrictions upon each and every person living in affected areas, creating conservation solutions that will be relevant for the lifestyles of the future is especially important, and the agility of designers in coming up with products that quickly cut consumer water consumption will be a key factor in determining whether humanity will be able to adapt to a new era in our relationship with natural resources.