Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

Email Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Github

I believe, my beard shaving career started when I was 13 or 14. The process, shaving, is repeated perhaps once or twice a week and the technique has never changed over the years: it involves blades, shaving foam and water. A lot of water.

I have been shaving my beard roughly 75 times a year using constant flowing water. This is, well, nonsensical. The water used, for the purpose of cleaning the blades once every other stroke, is minimal compared to the water wasted, which flows unused down the sink.

It took me half of my life to realize this.

Recently, I adopted a slightly modified technique. Instead of using constant flowing water to clean the blades, I fill up the sink with some water and clean the blades in the little reservoir. It works perfectly.

Today, I did a short experiment. The question is, how much water do I save with the slightly modified procedure? Of course, the result depends on a number of factors, blade quality, water pressure, beard length come to mind.

The results of the experiment. For the new technique, I need roughly 0.5 liter water. For the old technique, replicated this morning, I need the amount of water that equates to filling five times the sink. The capacity of the sink is 7 liter. This results in consumption of 35 liter for a single shaving session. The new technique, is an optimization of 2 orders of magnitude. I need 70 times less water while shaving, from now on.

With my roughly 75 shaving sessions a year, I consume 2,625 liter water with the old procedure; I consume 37.5 liter with the new procedure, a year. Over 15 years, I consumed 39,375 liter; would I have been born a little smarter, I would have consumed 562.5 liter.

I hope the math is right. Of course, this is an approximation. Nevertheless, I think it is undeniable that using constant flowing water for the purpose of wet shaving is nonsensical.

Further, I believe this is a nice example on how we urgently need smart metering in housing. We need fine-grained information on how much resources each appliance consumes, energy, water, etc. I think, most of the time we unconsciously waste resources and smart metering could be a way to become more conscious about what comes in and goes out of our own four walls. Ideally, the smart system would not just tell us how much we consume but compare it with an average. If we are above the average, the system should suggest “what others do.” If we are below the average, it should ask “what are we doing.”

Aggregate the collective intelligence such that the next time I don’t need half of my life to realize peanuts.