Recently in Design for Water Category

tapit-dc-blackiphone5.pngWe are really excited to announce the launch of two new mobile applications to help you find free tap water at business and fountain locations in the Metro DC area! 

As part of our partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, our tap water finder is available on both iPhone and Android platforms!

We have partnered with utilities, municipalities and over 400 businesses around the DC region to bring the most comprehensive water refill network available yet. The app allows you to find the nearest location or you can or search by address.  

So head over to the iPhone App Store or Google Play and download the app for your phone!

Please get in touch with any feedback about your experience. Let us know how we can make them better!

Stay tuned for updates and announcements as we expand the TapIt program in DC on Twitter and Facebook.


A (Transparent) Birdhouse For Your Soul

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Plastic is called precisely that because of its malleability - most importantly, it doesn't have to end up as waste! Portuguese art collective, Colectivo da Rainha created a variety of re-used plastic products for project reMix - a call to social innovation. 

They created the birdhouse just by heating and remolding the plastic. It's an elegant little solution to something which would otherwise have been thrown into a landfill (at it's worst case scenario). Add seed or water to create a way to view backyard birds with ease. It's also easily disinfected which makes it durable and easy to care for. How can anyone think about throwing out another bottle now?
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Check out the collective's page for their other waste innovations, a beautiful little transparent planter, a colorful little seat made of industrial waste, a "treehouse" for kids dolls (or wall art) made out of a stump, etc.  

Photocredit: colectivo da rainha
There are many reasons to skip bottled water and head straight to the tap. We have summed what we thought were the top 10 in one simple infographic. If this doesn't convince you, maybe nothing will.

Be sure to pass this along to those who might not be quite convinced that tap water is the way to. Scroll to the bottom for a link to the full size infographic as a downloadable PDF.

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solarpanels.jpgThe international push for greater dependence on renewable energy sources sparked significant growth in the number of solar power projects in 2011. In the Southwestern United States, the nation's most arid climate, solar power can reach maximum efficiency potential and is hailed a great solution to reduce carbon emissions and pollution. In Germany, solar power output increased by 60% in 2011. In nations such as India and China, economic and population growth has facilitated the growth of solar energy plans as solar facilities simply add to the grid instead of replacing other energy sources. The largest completed project in New England, a 44 MW proposed project in Peru, and additional large-scale projects in Canada and France made 2011 a great year for solar power.

These recent advances have reintroduced a debate surrounding solar power efficiency that first received media attention about 4 years ago. Solar facilities require massive amounts of water. Facilities that use photovoltaic panels require approximately 16,600 gallons per megawatt annually. Solar facilities that utilize wet-cooling solar thermal tactics use more than 2 million gallons per megawatt annually, and even more water is necessary for cooling in particularly hot regions where evaporation occurs more rapidly. On average, solar parabolic troughs use three times as much water as a coal power plant and nearly twice as much as a nuclear plant per megawatt hour. In a dry, sunny region where solar power is often seen as most logical based on foreseen efficiency, it can prove impractical to expand an industry that needs so much of a scarce resource.
 
Much of the need for water use on solar arrays does not come from operating the facility, but instead from cleaning the panels. Solar photovoltaic panels can lose up to 3% efficiency due to dust collection, which is a visible problem in the desert. The bigger the plant, the more power lost with the presence of dirt and dust. Dusty cells are washed using tap water hoses often moved and operated from trucks. This must be done at least three times a year to keep the facility at maximum efficiency.

This contentious issue has been largely ignored in reports of new solar projects, especially in arid regions where solar power is of growing popularity. Although solar energy has several environmental benefits, many wonder whether it is wise to develop an industry without recognizing the consequences of increased water scarcity. Experts in Arizona, California, and Nevada have pushed for the development of solar facilities that use less water and a cost-benefit analysis of water use in solar facilities. As water conservation is directly linked to sustainability and what is green, the overuse of water resources to maintain solar facilities questions their feasibility as a green energy solution. We must ponder whether new solar power projects are really benefiting people and the environment as much as they advertise, or whether further advancements to increase water efficiency of solar facilities is necessary, especially before they are developed in water-scarce regions. Solar power has great potential, but must we perfect the technology and its efficiency before rushing into large-scale implementation? The 2011 year of say go to solar would say no.  

Photo Credit: "Solar Panels" by spanginator from Flickr used under the Creative Commons Copyright

San Francisco Taps It

SFmap.pngSince TapIt first launched with Global Tap in San Francisco last year, the number of hydration stations across the city has gone from a single unit to eight, including two at the San Francisco International Airport. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission promotes these bottle refilling locations as a healthy alternative to single-use plastic water bottles by providing a way to refill on the go.

The 8 stations are located throughout the city, with an interactive Google map pinpointing their locations. The agency has installed the tap stations to provide everyone with free access to high-quality, great tasting tap water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. The water costs less than half a penny per gallon, is tested over 100,000 times per year, and is held to higher standards and regulations set by than EPA than some bottled water companies. 

The agency also highlights the evils of plastic water bottles, including citing how costly they are for the environment and how much they contribute to climate change by creating unnecessary waste. A video located on their website provides many examples of people in SF proudly enjoying their tap water thanks to the Drink Tap Project.


Tap and hydration stations is a trend that is not unique to San Francisco. They have also become quite popular on college campuses across the U.S. and in other cities.

Photo Credit: "Outdoor Water Stations in San Francisco" from the SF Public Utilities Commission and powered by Google.

Just TapIt For Your FREE 'bkr' Glass Water Bottle

bkr stacked.jpg.jpgWe all enjoy a cool glass of tap water when we are thirsty. What if we could have that experience in a bottle? 

That's where the 'bkr' (pronounced Beaker) comes in. With these ergonomic glass bottles, carrying a glass bottle is easy with the protection of a stylish protective cover. You won't have to worry so much about the glass breaking in your bag, plus, they look pretty good too. (To everyone in New York City, bkr is at a pop up sale at Henri Bendel this week at 712 5th Ave)

How to WIN a FREE bkr Bottle:

So, from now until July 15th, the 3 biggest refill addicts who update Facebook or Tweet water refills either at a TapIt location (NYC, San Francisco, DC, Salt Lake City, Portland Etc.) or potential TapIt location (Anyplace you refill your bottle) the most will get a FREE bkr bottle in the color of their choice.

How to Record your Refill:

Facebook: Simply mention us using @bkr and @tapit in your update about your refill

Twitter: Simply use Hashtag #TapIt4bkr in your refill update (and mention @tapitwater + @mybkr)

Get to it water drinkers!! Stay Hydrated!

REMEMBER: Please 'Like' TapIt and bkr on Facebook and Twitter to enter.





Aquaponics in Action

Aquaponics.pngAquaponics is the cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating environment. A combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics pairs fish and plants in one integrated system. Fish waste provides a food source for the growing plants and the plants provide and natural filter for the water the fish live in. This creates a sustainable ecosystem where both plants and fish can thrive. A small aquaponics system utilizing a ten-gallon fish tank can produce up to eight heads of lettuce in just four to six weeks.

One of the fastest growing agricultural industries since the 1990's, aquaponics offers a way to produce food indoors (with utilization of available sunlight). The benefits include relatively simple and sustainable food production, but also an opportunity for students to gain exposure to agriculture and learn the importance of a green lifestyle. It can be used as a learning tool, exciting activity, and interesting hobby. Community-scale systems are frequently implemented in schools and educational facilities. Larger scale aquaponics systems exist around the globe in food production facilities, learning and research centers, and other fishery locations.

Interested in constructing an aquaponics system in your own home? Basic kits for sale and information about assemblage and upkeep are available from Nelson Pade. Those interested in taking a vacation to the beautiful coast of Maine for a July weekend this summer can attend and public aquaponics workshop. Housing is available at this exciting event, which comes complete with an aquaponics kit from Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde, Maine.

Photo Credit: Herring Gut Learning Center


 

 


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This post was originally seen on My Water Bloggle, a blog dedicated to road testing and reviewing water bottles based on its functionality and the company's dedication to contributing to the environment. 

In the era of no-liquids-on-planes, it becomes very frustrating and pricey to travel while meeting our body's hydration needs. In the pressure-controlled tube of an airplane, our bodies dry up really fast, which is why you often will find yourself in dire need of liquids. Soft drinks and alcohol may seem like a good choice as the steward wanders down the isle asking for your drink preference, but those drinks only supplement the sugar contents but not the hydration needs. Water bottles are definitely the way to go when it comes to flying.

   
 This is a picture of my Vapur bottle at the Taipei International Airport's dedicated bottle refill station. As I struggled to put water into a bag as the Vapur flopped around off the edge of the drinking fountain, an airport lady walked up to me and pointed to the machine to my right. It was not even in my thought process that any airport would actually dedicate an entire machine to bottle refilling...not to mention filtered clean water! With that said, here are my top three favorite bottles to travel with: 

1. Vapur Anti-bottle. It folds up really nicely in my bag going through security and fits into any nook and cranny on the plane without taking up too much room. However, refilling it at a drinking fountain can be somewhat of a challenge because of the way it flops.  

2. ALEX bottle. The bottle "breaks" into two segments and stacks nicely on top of each other like a russian doll. It keeps my bag space free for other things I need to carry on and it holds a good amount of water that'll last me through the flight. Be mindful, and this is VERY important, of the role air pressure plays into everything when you're in the air. Pressure is a lot less up above, even when the cabin is pressurized, which means that water will find its way out of the bottle. More than once I've had water leak out the middle where the two ends connect. This is to no fault of the manufacturer but that it's just how nature works. A simple solution is to loosen the cap to equalize the pressure between inside and outside the bottle.


3. CamelBak Groove bottle. This is the CamelBak bottle with a built-in filter. Especially for those of you that do not like the taste of tap/drinking fountain water, this is perfect for travel because the filter neutralizes the tap water taste easily. I like this one over the Bobble (and I've traveled with the Bobble before) because due to pressure (once again), the Bobble slowly seeps water up the top of the spout, causing drainage problems. With the CamelBak, the straw can easily release pressure from within the bottle with a simple squeeze without you worrying about keeping a bottle open and accidentally spilling it all over your books.

 

What about your travel experiences? What are some of your favorite ways to stay hydrated in the air or at the airport without buying overpriced water bottles?

Product Review: CamelBak Groove

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This post was originally seen on My Water Bloggle, a blog dedicated to road testing and reviewing water bottles based on its functionality and the company's dedication to contributing to the environment.

Since the geniuses behind Bobble came out with individualized filters for water bottles, I have definitely observed a trend towards more innovative products that challenges the conventional notion of what a "water bottle" is. I have previously reviewed a CamelBak bottle but I could not resist getting the new Groove (TM) after seeing that it has a built-in filter! Yes! The filter is built into the straw but you don't have to recycle the entire filter (along with the plastic), you just switch out the carbon filter stick inside.

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What I love about the bottle:
  • Like the previous CamelBak bottle that I write about, I love that they really designed these bottles with the active user in mind. The straw and bite valve allows you to drink water on the go without ever tilting your head.
  • The filter! This is the perfect bottle for bike riding because you can fill up at any water fountain or public water refill places without worrying about getting that public tap water taste when water runs out in the middle of a ride.
  • The filter (again)! Unlike the other bottle filter from the other brand, this filter does not make it difficult for you to suck water out nor does it make a squeekly sound.
  • The clear BPA-free plastic bottle gives the water a really pretty shine and the handle on top makes carrying it around really easy.
  • You can bend down the bite valve and retract the mouth piece when not in use.
  • Because you don't replace the entire straw after 3 months of filter use and only replace a small carbon tube that fits inside the thicker portion of the straw, you're not wasting more plastic, which makes it more environmentally friendly.

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What I don't like about the bottle:
  • When you retract the mouth piece, it still builds a lot of dust and dirt kicked up from the bike (if you put it in your bottle holster), and the dust settles in the nooks and crannies around the mouth area. This requires constant cleaning and often with Q-tips.
  • It is only 0.6L, which is a perfect size for SHORT bike rides and perhaps a short shopping trip out. However, for longer rides, you will need to constantly refill because it does not hold a large quantity of water. Once again, evaluate your weight vs. volume trade-off and decide accordingly.
Characteristics about the bottle:
  • 0.6L (20 oz), comes in plastic or stainless steel
  • Comes in 4 colors for plastic - Cool Blue (pictured), Sea Foam, Blush, and Graphite; comes in 2 colors for stainless steel - Natural and White
  • All aspects of the bottle are BPA-free
  • $25 for the clear plastic bottle, $35 for the stainless steel bottle.
Does the company give back to the environment or society?
  • CamelBak has taken many measures to ensure that they live out their mission - build a more sustainable world. The measures they have taken towards social responsibility is too long to list here but you can take a closer look on their website here.
  • CamelBak sponsors many environmental initiatives as well as social initiatives that advocates for active individuals. Get more details here.
camelbak_5003.jpgWhere can I get it?
wofford.pngThis Earth Day, April 22nd, students at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina created a visual display to bring attention to the use of water bottles. The bottle Earth was meant to educate students about how much waste is created by using plastic water bottles and was an effort to raise awareness about the benefits of the tap.

Wofford's students used green and blue dye to fill around 1000 water bottles, and then neatly arranged the bottles to show a global display in front of the historic Old Main on the school's campus. The bottles were collected from a recycling area located near the campus dining hall. The bottled globe was put together primarily by students enrolled in one of the college's environmental studies courses and was led by senior environmental studies major Danielle Peoples. The vibrant display brought Earth Day to the attention of many students. A video about the display is located here.

Photo Credit: Alex C. Hicks Jr. and GoUpstate.com