I’m starting a project to increase the number of public water fountains in the UK, and I’d like to invite you to join me.
The idea started as a business to bring bottled purified tap water (which is what both Coke and Pepsi’s US water brands are) to the UK, but make sure it’s bottled no more than 20 miles from where it’s sold. I was intending to market it as a cheaper, more eco-friendly alternative to what’s out there, with most of the profits going to help the 1bn people in the world who don’t have access to clean, fresh water.
But then I checked around on some environmental Q&A sites, and although that kind of water would be a greener alternative to what is imported from France, Fiji or NZ, bottled water still creates a serious carbon footprint.
In 2008, transporting the UK’s annual bottled water supply of 3bn litres used over 31,000 tonnes of CO2. On top of that, only 3bn of the 13bn plastic bottles consumed in the UK each year are recycled, and even then, the resources required to make and dispose of a plastic bottle means that it actually takes three bottles of water to make a bottle of water.
So I thought on and it soon occurred to me that a free, piped-in source of clean water would be the ideal deterrent to this enormous strain on our environment.
When I was a kid, water fountains used to be everywhere. Now you’d be lucky to find any, particularly in large cities. I have yet to get to the bottom of why, but reasons as diverse as Legionnaire’s Disease, vandalism and cost have been mentioned by various councils I’ve been in contact with.
But those are not substantial reasons to keep things as they are: Legionnaire’s Disease is not an issue if the fountain is properly maintained; potential vandalism could be taken into account at the design stage, and I believe the cost could be overcome through sponsorship (like the Barclays Bikes), eg: Nike, Thames Water or Government health schemes. The whole venture could have a health or sport angle, and if people were sure there’s be a useable water fountain in their park, they wouldn’t need to carry water with them or buy it en route.
Then there’s also the financial benefit: spending a few quid on bottles of water for the family when you’re out an about would be semnseless if you knew there was a fountain you could drink from or use to fill your own refill bottle.
So it seems to make sense. All that remain is to make it happen.
If you’re interested in helping me, I’m looking for all sorts of people who can help with various aspects of the campaign. Do you know people on local councils? Do you know a client who might like some CSR that would actually make a difference? Could you help design a website so that people could learn about about the scheme and find out where their nearest fountain might be? Do you know people on the Olympic committee who might like to place fountains near the stadia as a legacy for when the games are over? Perhaps you know an environmental journalist who can get behind the idea in a paper or on a blog, or a media company who could run some ads for free. Are you a creative who could write some ads (I might be able to do that myself)? Or maybe there’s an angle that’s occurring to you right now that I haven’t mentioned.
If you’re interested in getting involved, please email me at email@example.com
I guarantee it’ll be better and more exciting than being an advertiser in this day and age.