Virgin Hotels and Ritz-Carlton are among hospitality companies starting to purify and bottle water within their properties and sell to guests in a program led by the Whole World Water Initiative. Such a step is important considering the environmental impact that bottled water has on municipalities–especially those in regions of the world lacking an effective trash collection and recycling infrastructure, not to mention safe water for drinking.
The Whole World Water campaign, which launched this month, will have an impact on hotel guests, too. Spending over $10 on a bottle of water in Africa is not unheard of–and in other countries it can be the cruel reality where “don’t drink the water” means really, do not drink from the tap, even in a hotel or resort property with a sophisticated filtration system. This initiative should not only reduce waste and emissions from hauling bottled water absurd distances, but raise awareness about clean water and generate funds for many NGOs–not to mention the fact it is another cool example of sustainable design.
Hotels and business that participate in the Whole World Water program will have access to a Vivreau Table Water Bottling System, a company that has installed such systems for over 20 years. The reusable glass bottle key to this campaign is the brainchild of (who else?) Yves Béhar, the CEO of fusepoint, a design firm that has partnered with PUMA, Herman Miller and SodaStream. Among the partnership’s advisors is billionaire rabble rouser Richard Branson, who has been especially vocal on sustainability issues for several years.
While businesses can save money–Whole World Water insists businesses can increase the bottom line as much as 25 percent–the fund seeks to raise as much as $1 billion a year for the 780 million to one billion people who lack access to safe water. As many as 3.4 million people annually die from water- and sanitation-related causes. Meanwhile the environment benefits from the elimination of plastic waste and reduction in pollutants by the elimination of toxic chemicals.
This three year campaign is another example of where businesses within the same industry are collaborating, not competing, on an issue that can save lives while contributing to improved profits. Companies within the hospitality industry pay $1,000 per property to install the system, and they gain a variety of benefits including, what else, social media. Considering the nightly rate at some of these resorts, such an opportunity to do good, and improve lives, is a bargain.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India next month with the International Reporting Project.
[Image Credit: Whole World Water]