Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How Green Is My H2O
12 Ways WASA Can Help DC Break Its Bottled Water Habit - and Improve Our Plastic Container Environmental Impact

Fast Company's fascinating analysis of the bottled water phenomenon ("Message in a Bottle," July/August 2007) inspired me to come up with some more ideas for improving WASA's public outreach (see my previous post on the subject - 7 Ways to Improve a Municipal Water Report to DC Residents.)

According to Fast Company, America's water supply is "impressively safe," yet we prefer to spend billions on a substance we can get for free (or at very very very low cost), not to mention the environmental cost of all those plastic bottles.

I think this provides a great opportunity for DC's Water and Sewer Authority to take back their main product and reposition it in our lives. How to do this? Some examples:

1. Publish a "Did You Know..." series focusing on
- how much money we can save by filling our water bottles from the tap
- tips and facts about water's health benefits
- how municipal water purification is not that far removed from bottled water manufacturers' water processing systems
- why using DC's water is better than using bottled water.

2. Create a fact sheet itemizing all of WASA's benefits to DC residents (sometimes these things need to be spelled out, even the ones that can be termed "common sense.")

3. Design a snappy DC water system logo that looks less governmental.

4. Provide DC households with a free plastic gallon refrigerator water jug - prominently featuring the logo. Make the jugs, as well as reusable individual water bottles (adult and child/aquapod sizes) available to DC residents for a small fee.

5. Revamp
the consumer sections of WASA's Web site to better represent the DC water "brand" and upgrade the graphics, writing style, and user information.

6. Start a DC water blog, highlighting facts, short tutorials, and breaking news around DC's water supply. Plenty of opportunities for puns here, which I won't burden anyone with at this point.

7. Develop a "Save the Water, Save the World" campaign, which encourages residents to keep track of the money saved through bypassing the purchase of bottled water, which they can then donate to charity (like WASA's S.P.L.A.S.H. Program.)

8. Conduct taste tests at community gatherings (farmer's markets, flea markets, neighborhood festival days) at a newly-upgraded WASA exhibit, which pit DC water against the top bottled water brands (and give away t-shirt sporting the new WASA logo.)

9. Create
a school science curriculum showing the extensive water reclamation system and its component technologies.

10. Collaborate with DC's Department of Public Works on a program that encourages residents to lower the amount of plastic we throw away by reusing water bottles for DC tap water, and informs us on how much garbage we currently produce with bottled water.

11. Launch a "develop your taste for water campaign."

12. Combine
forces with DC's Health Center on a "Water Fights Obesity" campaign that shows the positive health benefits of DC water (when combined with healthy eating and exercise.) Identify (and facilitate) some neighborhood "Jareds" (a la Subway) as spokespersons for the campaign.

Extra Added Attraction! Dumb Little Man offers "9 Reasons to Drink Water, and How to Form the Water Habit."

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