If you don’t already know that plastic water bottles are the leading ingredient in our world’s enormous landfills, you’re probably living in 1950 when plastic was good and suburban sprawl was better.
ABOVE: Children from an orphanage school in Kenya carry bottles of water. Even natives refuse to drink from their taps.
The thing is, it’s so hard to find potable water (and I’m not just being lazy, promise)! I try my best to carry BPA free, re-usable bottles but sometimes its just so unappealing to fill up at my gym, for instance, where the water tastes. It tastes. It’s bad. And forget traveling out the country. I think Basel is the only city in Europe where I recall being hydrated because there are public fountains everywhere for consumption. Ask an urban planner today where they are planning for a fountain, and likely, they are not. The water fountain in a public square has gone the way of the payphone.
When this Good.is email popped into my inbox this morning relaying the possibility of drinking fountain locations available at my fingertips, I was instantly intrigued because simultaneously a few emails about my upcoming trip to Africa flew in from cyberspace.
ABOVE: This man made a ‘boat’ from all the plastic bottles left behind by tourists on the shores of the Indian Ocean in Kenya.
I think the first conversation I had about traveling to visit Nessa, a dear friend who is completing a Kiva.org Fellowship in Kenya, was about how everyone in Nairobi drinks out of disposable plastic water bottles for fear that the billion contaminates in well / city / sink water will seriously harm your body. For two weeks, I will run through as many bottles of water as necessary. I will try to find recycling, but honestly, I’m not sure if that is a thing in the capital or outside of it especially. Even our safari package includes a set amount of bottled water. That’s how ubiquitous, and required, it is for the people of East Africa.
So how does a country that subsists on pre-packaged water make an app like WeTap (which helps users indentify free water) work?
I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure the creators at UCLA’s Institute of Environmental Studies do either. I do look forward to learning about the post-consumer life of water bottles in Kenya. Do they have landfills? Do they churn the plastic into more plastic? Is the Indian Ocean a catch-all? Is there a business idea here? Stay tuned!