February 25, 2009 / 9:59 PM / 10 years ago

New products aim to save money and the planet

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Want to save money as well as the planet?

Dual-flush toilets, glitzy homemade club soda kits and reusable bamboo fiber diapers are just some of the eco-products being offered to consumers at the second annual Green Products Expos as the idea of green shifts to thrift amid the economic crisis.

“Last year green products were mostly about women’s apparel made out of eco-friendly materials, this year with the economic crunch people are staying at home and looking to see where they can make a few changes to save money,” said Kevin Nichols, the head of Propel Media, whose products were shown at the expo.

To reduce water waste Kohler designed efficient toilets that feature two buttons — one to produce a flush of 1.6 gallons (6 liters) and a second that uses only half that amount for smaller jobs.

Todd Weber, a manager at the company, said an investment of about $500 into a package that includes the dual flush and high-tech shower heads, which trick consumers into thinking they are using more water than they really are, can pay for itself with in one to two years.

The toilets can save a family up to 16,500 gallons of water per year and the shower heads can save more than 20 percent on hot water bills, according to the firm.

Some companies and consumers have become increasingly concerned about water waste with higher temperatures from climate change expected to bring more droughts and melt mountain glaciers, a source of fresh water for billions of people around the world.

The saving of heated water can cut use of fossil fuels and emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet.

Weber said the toilets are selling well in the Pacific northwest of the United States, where consumers are more aware of water shortages, and in Georgia, which recently experienced severe droughts.

For families who like fizzy drinks Sodastream, a company based in New Jersey, sells kits that inject carbon dioxide into tap water to make seltzer water and flavored sodas.

Company manager Steve Smith said the basic $80 kit can pay for itself in three to six months depending on much it is used. It also saves fuel in the transportation and packaging of carbonated beverages.

If rising landfills are a concern, the Maine Cloth Diaper Co. may have the answer. It produces reusable diapers made out of bamboo fiber.

Murray Perce, a co-founder of the company, said disposable diapers cost about $1,500 from birth to potty training, while bamboo reusables cost about $350, not including water and power bills for washing and drying — or labor costs.

Perce said sales have not suffered during the economic crisis as consumers see the diapers as a way to save money.

“Sales have been stable this year, isn’t that the new up?”

Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Patricia Reaney

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