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Sustainable Springfield Inc. (SSI) is an environmental grass roots organization that promotes responsible planning efforts by our local governments and encourages the Springfield area citizen and business community to live and operate more sustainably. We are an information sharing network and closely ally our organization with other environmental groups in Springfield to promote their activities as well as our own.

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Automatic Waste or Automatic Sustainability

How many times is the toilet going to flush? Ever been in a public restroom and asked this question. I understand the positives of having an automatic flushing toilet. It makes me happy not to have to touch a public toilet. It is also nice not to encounter a toilet that hasn’t been flushed. I get it…it’s a luxury with some positives. However, how much water is wasted with the three (or more) unnecessary extra flushes? And that is just one toilet; let’s multiply that by all the automatic toilets in use on this planet, and we are talking about a major waste of our water resource. We only have a fixed amount of water on the planet, with no more being added to the system. Do we really want to flush this precious resource down the toilet?  And how hard is it really to manually flush a toilet.

That is just one example of automatic waste. In this world where technological advances are creeping up in every aspect of our lives, we are finding more and more automatic luxuries are becoming available to us. While a few hinder sustainable efforts, others play an integral part in sustainability. For example, motion detector lights.

It seems that many public restrooms have installed motion detector lights as an excellent way to lower electricity costs. After all, no one wants to touch anything in a public restroom. Often the lights in a public restroom are left on during business hours (and occasionally all night when someone forgets to turn them off). So this is genius, a motion detector solves the problem and offers a great example of a small step businesses can take towards operating more sustainably. Motion detector lights can also be used in other rooms besides the bathroom. The only drawback to this technology, if you sit still long enough you will be in the dark. 

Well, since I am seemingly obsessed with public restrooms, here’s another positive example from the bathroom, the automatic faucet. I have a love/hate relationship with the automatic faucet.  I love the luxury of not having to touch a public faucet. I hate the fact that 8 out of 10 times I can’t get it to work. Also, you can’t control the temperature of the water, which has been a painful problem for my five year old. Despite these drawbacks, an automatic faucet is a great example of how a business can conserve water. No more faucets left on, and if it’s not working properly that’s even more water saved…but you’ll have dirty hands!

So, when you decide to make some positive changes and take small steps to live more sustainably, remember technology does offer some easy and affordable ways to have automatic sustainability. Just stay away from negative changes that lead to automatic waste.

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