Thirty years ago bottled water barely existed as an industry. People were happy getting water from the same place as they always had: the tap. Drinking non-stop from plastic bottles—let alone those shipped from Fiji or Norway—would have seemed really strange. Fast-forward to today and this scenario is commonplace. In fact, in 2011, Americans spent about 21.7 billion dollars on bottled water and according to Back2Tap, and they dispose of 50 billion bottles a year.
How did we get here? And more importantly, how can we turn back the clock? In 2006, my partner, Eric Barnes, and I started asking the same question. Our answer was to make sustainable hydration the “new normal”. Our approach was to meet bottled water on its own terms by creating reusable bottles with features that made them convenient and fun to use. With our company, KOR Water, we now raise awareness and funding for global water issues by donating a portion of each sale to charities and working with them to help educate the public.
Although our obsessively designed reusables have inspired many to “embrace the tap,” far too many continue their bottled water habit. So about 18 months ago, we decided to double down and create our “bottled water killer”—a filtering bottle that would encourage people to take it everywhere and ditch plastic.
After studying existing products and talking to customers, our mission became clear: this bottle would have to make ordinary tap water taste great, the drinking experience would have to be flawless, the design stunning, and the care and maintenance easy. All at an affordable price.
This week we are thrilled to unveil the result on Kickstarter. It’s called Nava.
We chose to make our filter from activated carbon, a material that has been used for thousands of years to purify water. Nava’s filter derives from coconut shells, a renewable and safe resource. After harvesting, the shells are processed using a proprietary method that traps and reuses the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Under normal use, each filter lasts about three months, preventing over 300 disposable bottles from being manufactured, transported and disposed.
To ensure a satisfying flow of water, we prototyped and tested over a dozen mouthpiece designs and obsessed over Nava’s fluid hydraulics. To provide quick access to that water, we designed a pushbutton cap that opens with one hand and protects the mouthpiece from germs and dirt. To find inspiration for Nava’s sleek look, we turned to racing motorcycles. Finally, to ensure that people remember to change their filters, we are creating a subscription program that delivers replacements to their doors.
Getting people to act more sustainably is hard, but we are sure of one thing: carrots work better than sticks. Through better design, we can remake our world so that people naturally gravitate toward sustainable behavior without feeling compromised. This is the philosophy behind Nava and we think it just might turn back the clock on bottled water.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.