Gallery: DESIGN FOR THE OTHER 90%: Lifestraw Water Purifier


With over 1.1 million people in the world who don’t have access to clean drinking water, water-borne pathogens are a huge problem for the environment and for human health. Fortunately a clever little design has come to the rescue in the form of the Lifestraw The cigar-sized plastic tool is both a feat of engineering and an inexpensive way to deliver potable water to those who need it. Lifestraw delivers the most basic needs and purifies water from potential pathogens like typhoid, cholera, dysentery and diarrhea, becoming one of the icons of humanitarian product design- by the time the water hits your lips, it’s completely safe and potable. The Lifestraw is one of the highlights of the Cooper Hewitt’s Design for the Other 90% exhibition, which highlights products, architecture, and technology that benefits under-privileged demographics across the globe.

Lifestraw was also featured in the Massive Change exhibitions and won an INDEX: Award in 2005. Designed by socially-focused design manufacturer Vestergaard-Frandsen, the straw can purify more than 700 liters of water without electricity or additional attachments.

+ Lifestraw
+ Vestergaard-Frandsen


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  1. Dawod Al Colombi August 21, 2012 at 6:08 am


  2. ktuov March 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    @mekhong kurt

    I think they’re referring to the fact that the majority of the time it is women who have to trek to get water for their families while the men are the ones who are able to go to school. I think they’re saying that if the women don’t have to walk as far to get the cleanest and safest water, they can do the same activities as men and go to school and have the same life as their counterparts.

    I do agree with you though on the material used. I feel like if something re-usable or something that could decompose may have been able to be used, but if decomposable plastic/corn was used then maybe the life of the product would be shortened or decrease the safety of the water.

    something to think about, let us know what you find out from them!

  3. blueplanetrun June 29, 2008 at 12:37 am

    One in six people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water

    Water related diseases are the leading cause of human sickness and death

    The average person in the developing world uses 2.64 gallons of water a day while the average person in the US uses 100-175

    Help end the global water crisis!

  4. Mekhong Kurt March 4, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    This is neat . . . potentially.

    I do wonder about four points in particular:

    (1.) What’s the cost of a LifeStraw?

    (2.) How does it compare with ordinary water-purification tablets?

    (3.) Can the active ingredients be replaced, or does one have to throw a used one away and get a new one?

    (4.) Why does the company use polystyrene for the outer casing? It’s environmentally-unfriendly, so it’s surprising the company didn’t use some other material, such as bamboo (unless a natural product affects or negates the efficacy of the device).

    Information from the website merits emphasis: a LifeStraw does not make salt water drinkable (though that can be handled through evaporation recovery), and it does not remove heavy metals.

    It’s a minor, nitpicking point, but there was something I read on their website that irked me: “Today, 1.1 billion people are without access to safe drinking water, robbing hundreds of women and girls of dignity, energy and time.” Huh? I guess *men* are either lucky — or have no dignity, energy, or time.

    In any case, at their website I learned there’s an office here in Bangkok, so I’ve e-mailed their sales person for further info. If I find anything out, I’ll pass it along.

  5. Inhabitat » Happy... November 22, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    […] A large percentage of the world’s population still doesn’t have access to electricity, clean drinking water, or basic education. We need to do better for the worlds […]

  6. Czysta woda zdrowia doda October 11, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    […] Pisaliśmy niedawno o słonecznej butelce, która dezynfekuje wodę. Dziś coś uzupełniającego – Lifestraw. Spragniony człowiek nie chce czekać cały dzień, aż woda w butli będzie oczyszczona. Wtedy idealnym rozwiązaniem jest właśnie rurka Lifestraw. Działa według bardzo prostej zasady – zasysana ustami woda przeciska się przez system specjalnych filtrów z żywic i węgla aktywowanego. Efekt jest taki, jak widać na zdjęciu – wodę można pić wprost z rzeki. Producent szacuje trwałość Lifestraw na jeden rok lub 700 litrów oczyszczonej wody (ok. 2 litrów dziennie). Lifestraw, za Inhabitat. […]

  7. Allyssa Coutu September 27, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Wow. That is ammazing. how can me and my schoolhelp wtih this and we really really want to because there are so many small children dying everyday.

    Massabesic middle school

  8. adam szczepanowski September 18, 2007 at 4:46 am

    if only 1.1 million people (out of 6.7Billion) dont have access to clean drinking water..weve done really well the last few years!
    maybe a typo?

  9. Richie September 15, 2007 at 11:52 am

    I first saw this product bat the 2006 Wired Fest in NYC. It’s an evolutionary product that allows individuals to have access to safe drinking water on demand. This is an amazing accomplishment, one that makes you feel good about ‘technology’. Please… lets have more technological inventions such as this one !

  10. Jaci September 13, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    It doesn’t make the water completely safe, as pointed out by Design Observer (

    “Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect the people using it — shown here standing in rivers — from infection by bilharzia worms swimming in the water.”

  11. meme September 13, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Its a great Idea, but the filtering technique used by this and another product (a water bottle with attachment) really needs to be left to stand for a few mins before drinking to ensure all parasites are dead… at least the water bottle could be used to poor into another container even tho the bite valve does not suggest this to the user…

    there are better products on the market, I think the apparent ease of use makes this one stand ontop, but does it really perform over boiling?

  12. » Design social: ... September 13, 2007 at 10:43 am

    […] Lifestraw é apenas um dos destaques da mostra Design For Ther Other 90% (Design para os Outros 90%) que tem como objetivo divulgar produtos, projetos de arquitetura e tecnologias que benificiam a população mais carente do mundo. Li sobre no Inhabit. […]

  13. Joyce September 13, 2007 at 9:42 am

    That is an amazing piece of technology! I wonder if the straw is made from food-grade plastic.

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