SNEWS Qs: Clean drinking water for all — that's the ambitious goal of LifeStraw

SNEWS talks humanitarian initiatives and new products with LifeStraw.
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Access to clean drinking water should be a basic human right. That’s what the folks at LifeStraw think.

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As the company gets ready to promote its LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market later this month, it’s hard at work on its Buy One Give One program, which will provide community water purification systems to people in developing nations for every LifeStraw product purchased in the U.S. and Canada.

SNEWS caught up with Aran Seaman of Eartheasy to talk Lifestraw’s new product and humanitarian initiatives.

What inspired you guys to start the Buy One Give One program?
The Buy One Give One program was put in place to align our North American retail branch with our ongoing humanitarian aid and public health programs. Over 2.5 million LifeStraw products have been distributed since 2005, and the Buy One Give One program adds to these ongoing efforts. We love the fact that we are able to push forward large-scale change through the support of consumers in the U.S. and Canada.

With our Buy One Give One program we do not donate LifeStraw Go bottles to individuals developing world, but instead provide clean water through LifeStraw Community water purifiers that are installed in schools. We have learned that it is much easier to track the success of a one-for-one program when you are working with established institutions on the ground.

Why is this and important program for your company?
Our business model has always been "profit for a purpose.” We feel that corporations have the ability to be agents of large-scale positive change and are striving to do this through our humanitarian aid programs.

What makes LifeStraw different from other filters?
LifeStraw has been used extensively in Africa, Pakistan, Haiti and other developing countries since 2005, and was only made available to the retail market in 2011. This has resulted in years of extensive research, testing and improvement to get the filter to where it is now: a simple, highly effective and low-cost product.

As we produce such a large volume of LifeStraw filters and purifiers for the developing world, we are able to achieve economies of scale. When comparing other filters to LifeStraw you generally see a dramatic difference between the amount of water filtered for the cost of the filter.

We also have many laboratory trials and third-party reviews of our technology, as this is required by the NGOs and governmental agencies we deal with around the world. Quite often, we see water filtration companies making claims about their technology that are simply not substantiated or tested thoroughly. We feel that we stand apart from these companies in providing a product line that consumers can trust.

Why is this product ideal for areas in developing nations?
The LifeStraw line of water filters and purifiers were exclusively designed for the developing world, and has been distributed widely in Africa. They are ideal because they are simple, rugged and easy to use, with few moving parts and no chemicals or batteries. As LifeStraws are shipped all over the world, they built to be as strong and light as possible.

Tell us about the LifeStraw Go product?
The LifeStraw Go is the first product we have built for the retail market. It integrates the award-winning LifeStraw personal water filter within a sleek, BPA-free tritan sports water bottle for everyday use. The filter removes 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria and 99.9 percent waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters 1,000 liters of water (264 gallons). It also removes turbidity by filtering out particulate matter to 0.2 microns in size.

What makes it different from others you've released before?
The LifeStraw Go is different from other water filter bottles on the market in that it provides users with a very effective, well-tested water filter that has a high flow rate and filters a large volume of water for a very competitive price.

What are the dangers to people who don't use a personal water filter?
Even though water may look clean and safe to drink, there is always the chance that it is contaminated, especially in the backcountry. If you choose to not filter your water you run the risk of contracting a waterborne illness, which could ruin your trip and potentially make you sick for months.

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