This month we highlight new business member Ken Wright who has lived in Ojai for 17 years. Ken, the founder of WaterSmart Technology, Inc. is an inventor with products and inventions used world-wide. Perhaps most importantly to us, Ken helped found the Ojai Valley Green Coalition after an “environmental awakening” spurred by Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”
“When the film mentioned the warming of the oceans and the impact that was having on giant kelp beds around the world my jaw dropped,” said Ken. “A week later I visited Malibu. I remembered in my youth seeing the giant kelp washed up on the beach every summer…Well, sure enough, hardly any kelp! It had just vanished.”
Immediately Ken began buying environmental books and trolling the internet. Twelve weeks later he urged his friend Tim Baird to see the movie and the rest, as they say, is history.
“We thought, what do we do?” said Ken. “I wanted to start an Ojai Valley group, one that would be small enough to really have an impact, and then, maybe grow it to influence other cities to push environmental education and concepts.”
Ken and Tim also thought building on Ojai as a green community would draw people to Ojai. So off Ken went to a San Francisco environmental convention where he met Hunter Lovins, an author and promoter of sustainable development. Ken arranged for Lovins to give a seminar in Ojai on the environment and the OVGC was born.
Ken credits Lovins with really getting him to focus in on the crux of the environmental crisis: upcoming water issues. “We went to dinner and Hunter said, ‘You have to think about water! The environmental crisis will be based on water. Either there will be too much water coming down, too quickly to absorb, or too little water and persistent drought. Go to Google. You’ll learn drought is the looming plague.” She urged Ken to develop products that would address water conservation and bring about consciousness and environmentalism.
Ken took her advice and hit water as a computer word search and “after two months of it my eyes were bulging. Disappearing water is the untold story.”
Ken decided that to understand the water crisis he had to look at it from his personal perspective. “At the time I had three young boys and I decided to look at the way my family uses water. I made a list – faucets, toilets, pools, laundry, landscaping, etc., and where else? Well my youngest son took a 25 minute shower. So the next time the bathroom was all steamed up I went in and asked him, ‘How come you are in here so long?’ Puzzled he answered, ‘I stand in here until the hot water is gone.’ Well that’s 50 gallons!”
After talking with some of his friends, Ken found they each had at least one water waster in their shower. He also found that heating each 50 gallons of water uses a lot of energy, enough to produce almost 13.5 lbs of carbon.
Ken realized what was needed was a professional grade shower timer, that promoted the user to be mindful of the time spent showering. It has been very well received by a variety of industries. “Its purpose is to shorten shower times, thus saving money, water, energy and cutting CO2 emissions. It does just that, and personally, it has given me a strong purpose in life.”
Ken says two and half years later, 2500 of the Sony made devices will soon be coming into his warehouse. The device can be programmed for the desired length of shower time. Red, yellow and green lights alert the bather as time expires. It records on and off times, water usage, notifies you when temperature is hot and will even playback sound effects downloadable from the company website (including the sounds of applause when the water goes off).
Ken has traveled a long way from his first exposure to “An Inconvenient Truth” and is focused on helping to bring along others with him. He is so excited about his new iMShowersmart he is offering to give all orders mentioning the OVGC 10 dollars off and make a 10 dollar donation to OVGC. Such a deal!
Call Ken for details at 805-653-5448.
Editor’s note: If you talk to Ken, thank him for his vision and contribution to starting the Coalition. Ken sat on the Board of Directors for several years and is presently an Advisory Board member.
Go here to learn more about business membership with the Coalition.