I was invited to attend the Northumbrian Water Group’s innovation festival at Newcastle Racecourse. It was a five day event where 510 delegates from some of the world’s leading businesses and most innovative minds gathered and to work together in order to tackle 13 major social and environmental challenges.
From innovation experts, scientists, engineers to designers, local businesses, Universities, schools, artists and members of the public, all came together to come up with and explore inventive ways to help change the world.
One of the things I wasn’t sure about was what I could contribute to these discussions. I thought it was an event solely for their employees when I was first invited. When I discovered that people from other businesses and backgrounds were there, some of whom I recognised from the local area, I became excited to see what was in store for us. People like me from diverse backgrounds had been invited along to give opinions and share experiences that may have offered a different slant on the solutions.
As a food blogger, and someone who is passionate about sustainability, I could contribute something different to the sprints organised. Each sprint had a particular focus. For those not familiar with the concept, a sprint is a time-boxed exercise which is broken down into smaller tasks. The goal was to have an idea to feedback to other delegates at the end of the sessions.
NWG were looking to develop technology to enable people to conserve water. One of the things I wasn’t aware of was that there was such a thing as water poverty in the UK. We seem to view water as almost valueless and we should be challenging our own behaviours and usage of water.
Each group looked at ways to educate a particular demographic on ways to conserve water as ‘Every Drop Counts’ and whether incentivising water saving initiatives would change peoples thinking. We discussed the social impact of this, too.
This Innovation Festival was zero waste event, with the goal of ensuring that the products sourced would be reused, repaired or recycled back into the marketplace or nature. Single use plastics were banned and people were encouraged to be as sustainable as they could throughout the day. Even the on-site catering team had to make adjustments to items used accordingly.
I was really impressed by the commitment shown by Northumbrian Water, not only because they put so much effort into it but also because their staff were also passionate about conservation issues. I didn’t realise that NWG offer money saving kits (available here) which can be personalised. I am going to order one for myself! You can choose items like an egg timer which shows how long you should be in the shower for, gel packs for feeding hanging baskets and more.
The whole event really has made me think about water waste and I look forward to seeing what NWG develop in response to this event.
Some of the big ideas to come from the festival included interactive smart toilets, underground maps, ‘dog bogs’ and well-being apps… and you’ll be hearing lots more about these in the coming months!
A few suggestions that I heard suggested through the course of the day and ones that I would challenge my readers to try are:
- Use a cup for brushing your teeth and instead of keeping the tap running.
- Instead of tipping your dishwater away, use it to water your plants.
- Use an egg timer to determine how much time you spend in the shower.
- If its yellow, let it mellow!
- Think about the plants you use. Choose succulents which need less watering.
Thanks for reading