Long before I have come to where I am in life right now, I had not only been to my husband a partner in life, but a partner in business as well. I’ve attended numerous events which by now I have lost count of. At present, I am enjoying the finer things in life, but then, I’ve had my previous share of laborious years, which bore fruit into the luxuries that I have now. When I said laborious, I really meant it in the literal sense! My husband and I have been in the construction industry for more than a decade. His mind was the master, but I can say that our business had remained stable through the years because it was I who handled all finances, whether it was the budget for the family or the business. By routine, I shopped for weekly groceries, then by request (or should I say demand when under time pressure), I purchase all the specified materials for the project at hand, and I even used to ride in the big trucks, making sure that everything is delivered in perfect condition.
My husband and I had great teamwork, which I could say simply because it worked. While my husband had been creative in design, he didn’t mind spending, and that’s just the way he is, but I’m THE mom here, and our family was growing. I had to squeeze in so many expenses without touching the capital—that was out of the family budget. Luckily, I was practical and economical, and that was just the way I am, so we balanced out. While he took charge of the on-site activities, I had managed to establish connections with different suppliers, learned their price ranges for their different products, and armed myself with numerous product options and alternatives that I could suggest for the times when he forgets that there exists in this world such a thing called “budget.” Our teamwork was at work even during architectural conventions and construction exhibits, which for some were invitational. While he looked around, I was canvassing while weighing the pros and cons of a variety of products. It has been quite some time since the last time I attended one though, since my husband’s hands are full with work, while I, well, I have my own work to attend to.
One might wonder why I spoke of these experiences as something of the past and simply nothing more. It worked out so well, but why did I not keep it that way? The answer is simple really: someone else just took my spot. Actually, my eldest daughter did, which isn’t so bad anyways, considering that it’s also preparation for the future, well, she’s not really taking over my job. It’s something more like taking over my “post” to see her future job at work in the closest perspective possible, which happens to be mine, well, not anymore, at least.
It just so happened that I was sitting by the computer this morning that I have been within earshot of the conversation going on between the architect and the architect-to-be. My husband got himself a new project, for which my daughter would be assisting him in. Then she started talking in architectural jargon that sounded quite foreign to my ears (I had her repeat it in summary just so I could write it down properly here). She said, “Dad, have you ever thought about suggesting anything to your client that has got anything to do with green architecture, or sustainable design, perhaps?”
The times are changing and our natural resources are rapidly being consumed. Architects—they’re considered as one of the most earth-unfriendly people out there. Why? Imagine this. When an architect builds a structure, they produce their building materials by taking it from nature. As the structure continues to exist, it continues to take out its utilities from natural resources, for water and electricity, while sending an immeasurable amount of waste in return. And then, come demolition time, most of the building materials that were once raw materials from earth are simply classified as waste, save for the organic materials like wood, which will eventually decay into the soil.
Green architecture and sustainable design could generally be described as the most extensive effort that architecture has given to start bending to the laws of nature before our actions, as well as the actions of those who have come before us, become irreversible. It is by far the most successful attempt of man to manipulate its designs to harmonize with that of the natural earth (sounds cool and sophisticated now, doesn’t it? Credit goes to the very reliable sources I have here who are trying to squeeze themselves in to get a good view of the monitor).
Anyways, going back to their previous conversation, before I got squished, she basically backed up her suggestion by saying, “It may be quite expensive, but they could consider it an investment, since they’ll be able to save up from their utility bills for the whole period of time that the structure exists, with less waste to go around.” This I cannot let pass. The moment I heard “quite expensive” was the moment my eyes narrowed into slits. “And you actually think the clients will take you up on that?” Of course, if ever they agree, it would be taken out of our budget first. Two words: no way.
I forgot that their spending habits were almost like a duplicate of each other, so I decided to take the matter into my hands. I suggested, “If you’re looking to save on utility bills, why not go for waterless urinals?” My daughter’s immediate reply was, “Uh, mom, I think we should do justice to the school. It’s a public school yes, but that doesn’t mean the toilets have to stink…”
I had to defend my case of course, so I said, “Just because I said ‘waterless’ doesn’t mean there’s no water. In the urinal, there is actually this thing, the cartridge, it holds the little amount of water that it needs. And on top of it is a sealant liquid, it isolates the urine, as well as the bad odor, from the rest of the room. Here’s an analogy: you know how oil and water won’t ever mix even if you shake it like mad, and the oil will always be on top because it has more density? It’s something like that, so the sealant liquid actually lasts, and the bath won’t ever stink.”
Only then was she enlightened or rather, she simply remembered, “Oh right, it’s that element that I didn’t want to use in my plate (that’s their term for their design projects). I’ve researched about that before, I was looking for elements that I could add to make my structure lean more towards sustainable design, and I stumbled upon that one, along with water recycling. I did say that it’s fine by me to invest in (a little) expensive systems, slash materials, slash utilities, since it’s going to be worth it when you see how unbelievably low your water bills would be, but, from my past research, you’d have to change the cartridge three or four times a year, I think. The amount of money you would save from having low water bills for life wouldn’t compensate the amount of money you’d have to spend on changing cartridges…for life. I can bet a whole life’s worth of savings on that one. I mean, I’m no purchaser like you, but I know that the cartridge isn’t simply made of paper, at least.”
Oh, it was turning into an all-out debate, and for the first time, I was on the defending end. Usually, it’s her and her dad going at it for hours, debating on politics, sciences, economics, inflation and election or whatever, but it was always them. It was my first time to be in “session,” and I feel a victory on my end, I was ecstatic, to say the least. How could I say so? She’s been in the practice of having debates with her dad since the day she started learning English, but, and that’s a big BUT, I’ve been doing my research for years, whether I liked it or not, plus, I saw this:
which led to this:
Moreover, I needed no English to prove my point here. I can’t let the pride of an almost-two-decade purchaser concede defeat in a topic that I should have the most knowledge of. So I let out all I had in my arsenal of knowledge in one long drawn-out statement:
“You know, there’s this genius, Jerry Ong, who saw the irony of inventing a waterless urinal that supposedly would be earth-friendly, yet having cartridges that are not only expensive, but also disposable. Way to go in saving the earth, right? So what he did, he invented the OTTO Waterless Urinal. The cartridge, that you’re supposed to buy in hundreds if you want to keep stocked for life, was made to be reusable, so you basically need one, unless you’re real smart to break it (insert sarcastic tone here), AND, it wouldn’t cost you a whole month’s worth of grocery. PLUS, you know that sealant liquid that I told you about, that you were curious about, it’s biodegradable, so even if you have to change it every once in a long while, it’s not going to cause some sort of red tide or algal bloom wherever it’s going to be disposed. Brilliant, yes? You should have specified in your design that you wanted OTTO Waterless Urinals if you were so concerned about sustainability and cost. It’s Earth-friendly through and through.”
She must have thought it was too good to be true, because she said, “Mom, you’re making things up, aren’t you? Cost always comes with quality, after all.” And then, looking as though she was just out of her deep thoughts, “I need proof,” she said with a straight face. That was a sign—it was going to be my win. Of course it was, because I had proof. I showed her the websites, then, with a face that said “defeat” all over, she said the most peculiar remark: “Waah, it’s so cute and pretty, looks modern too. It would give a contemporary streak to even an ordinary home, or building, in our case. I’d have to agree with you here, this guy’s a genius. Not only is this going to help the Earth, it will help the economy too. A Filipino invention suited for a Filipino lifestyle AND income.”
At present, they’re already looking into the prospects of using the OTTO Waterless Urinal in their future projects. In fact, they’re actually considering proposing the earth-friendly fixtures to their client on their current one. If anyone’s also interested in having these sleek savers in their most frequented room in the house, here’s the chance to get them installed, for less. Get the chance to win P 1 500 worth of gift certificate courtesy of Arrow Home Improvement by clicking on this link: