Drink Water? 999Bottle Lets You Measure How Much Plastic You Don’t Use
If you’ve started to feel like plastic has taken over the world, it has — from the Tupperware in our kitchens to children’s toys to the remote patches of ocean it has polluted. And the increase in reusable water bottles may seem like it’s helping, but it hasn’t managed to stem the problem that those bottles exist, at least in part, to fight: the disposable plastic water bottle.
The bain of any environmentalist’s — or surfer’s or citizen activist’s or bird lover’s — existence, bottled water is a tremendous source of the plastic pollution that has penetrated some of the most remote ecosystems you can find, killing marine life and swirling around in great big garbage patches in the middle of the world’s oceans.
Yet Americans continue to buy an estimated 51 billion bottles of water a year, and recycle just a fraction of those.
Recognizing that what we need is not necessarily more education about the problems with plastic, but a new approach to fighting it that’s a little more social and interactive, design company Artefact has come up with the 999Bottle. It’s a stainless steel bottle with a rubberized base that provides grip and stability, and more importantly, has numbered dials that allow you to keep track of how much you use it. Turning the numbers like you would a combination lock, you advance the dial one notch every time you refill the bottle — allowing you to keep tabs on how many plastic bottles you’re not using.
For people who have already kicked — or never had — the plastic bottled water habit, the designers’ intent is for the bottle to help you, and others, visualize the amount of waste that you’re not producing. (The 999Bottle team says that by using the bottle, you’ll have a positive impact on the environment; it seems more accurate to say you’ll avoid having a negative impact. Big, but often ignored, difference.)
The point is also to spark some useful conversation, potentially influencing the behavior of others. There’s an accompanying iPhone app that puts the numbers on your dial into context: 226 bottles equals 10 gallons of oil, for example. Or: “You’ve saved 1,063 bottles! That’s equivalent to the height of the Eiffel Tower. Oui, oui!”
With 999Bottle, they explain on their Kickstarter page, where they’re trying to raise $99,999 to launch the project: “you can share and amplify the impact of your behavior to influence others in helping reduce consumption of disposable water bottles.”
Because, the 999Bottle team says, the problem is about changing behavior more than anything else. “Most people understand and agree that disposable water bottles are expensive, a very inefficient use of resources, and harmful to the environment. But that understanding doesn’t necessarily translate into action.”