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The Green Life: Beyond Bottled Water

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June 17, 2008

Beyond Bottled Water

Drinking bottled water won't rot your teeth or pack on the pounds (like soda might), but oh, the waste! A recent graduate of San Francisco State University has designed something that could shrink the pile of plastic water bottles heading to landfills each day: an urban water fountain.

Last night, New York Times blogger, Sunset editor at large, and former Dwell chief Allison Arieff explained why Benjamin Pender's take on an age-old idea represents real innovation. In a post about "green" brands, she wrote:

Making more stuff — no matter how green that stuff is — will not really help combat global warming or reduce our collective carbon footprint. Companies need to produce things and need to make money by selling them — understood — but to me, the idea of simply creating more (albeit greener) product is pretty much on par with lowering gas prices as a solution to skyrocketing oil costs. When will we consider behavior? When we will commit to innovation?

[...]It’s great that there are water bottles that have reduced packaging and improved water quality. But it would be even greater if one of those companies could think outside the bottle to conceive an alternative water delivery system.

That's what Pender did (although he has a ways to go before implementing it). He had inspiration from Parisian fountains, data showing that public drinking fountains in San Francisco—which gurgle first-class tap water—exist only in parks and buildings, and a knack for slick design. What green innovations would you like to see? What inspires you to innovate? 

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