Clean water is a humanitarian issue that doesn’t just require design in the form of wells and water systems – but design thinking. The 1 billion people who don’t have access to safe water need the kind of problem-solving that underlies human-centered design – ideas that create sustainable solutions and don’t, for example, just build wells without training people how to fix them if they break. MiiR is a company that embodies this vision, by designing water bottles that not only give purchasers BPA-free, anti-bacterial bottles to drink water from, but the company also gives $1 to give one person safe water for one year by funding water projects.
From the very beginning, MiiR wasn’t building a brand around admonishing people for buying plastic Evians. “It’s not compelling to tell someone not to do something but then to buy your product,” says MiiR founder Bryan Pape. In 2009, Pape had a water bottle with an exclusive design that made it easy to use: it looked different from any other bottle on the market, and its perfect seal technology made it safer and easier to drink from. The product itself is also sustainable: it’s made from stainless steel, toxin-free, and 100% recyclable.
Although the projects are complex, MiiR’s financial model is simple. Rather than using less transparent ways to give back – like a percentage that could fluctuate or depend on the product – Bryan wanted a concrete method that people could understand. And, as his research showed, 100 pennies is indeed what it takes to give an individual safe water for a year. MiiR’s next initiative is about making their picture even clearer. Beginning this winter, MiiR will register every single bottle they sell so that customers can log onto their website and track exactly where their dollar goes.
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