We Want Tap

Filed in by on August 5, 2008 24 Comments

We want tap reusable bottlesThis is the first of our company spotlights. Over the coming weeks we will be featuring more companies who have donated prizes for our September Zero waste week.

We all know what Anya Hyndmarch has done for reusable bags. Now We Want Tap are doing the same for tap water! They intend to make tap water an environmentally friendly choice as well as a fashion statement.

I spent a happy time talking to Lisa from We Want Tap (TAP) and learned a lot about the bottled water industry.

Six million litres of bottled water are drunk in the UK every day and of 13 billion plastic bottles sold in the UK last year, only 10% were recycled. The rest ended up in landfill.

To make 13 billion plastic bottles requires around 8 million barrels of oil a year – enough to fuel more than half a million cars for a year.

Tap is a new ethical enterprise that is taking on the bottled water industry. It is a company, a campaign and a fundraising initiative, committed to getting people to re-think bottled water and rediscover a refreshing, clean alternative that’s literally on tap.

Lisa says “While the world struggles to deal with the challenge of climate change, bottled water has become a symbol of a non sustainable, disposable lifestyle.”

TAP know full well that in an ideal world we would all drink tap water and there would be no need for their company at all, but the fact remains that we don’t. In answer to this, TAP have come up with some innovative products to help get tap water back in favour and on our tables!

TAP’s tongue in cheek campaign have come up with some ‘do it yourself’ bottled water labels. These ‘brand’ your bottles with TAP instead of promoting large bottled water companies; turning your empty bottle of Evian into a public address system for tap water.

Using these labels encourages you to refill your bottles from the tap (or filter) up to 10 times with tap­water. You mark off each refill on the label’s Drink-O-Meter, before finally consigning the bottle to the recycling bin.

TAP also sell reusable bottles, made from non-leaching plastic. The bottles are made from a material called Eastman Tritan – a new generation copolyester and are fully recyclable.

TAP products are carbon neutral and sustainably sourced. The Do-It-Yourself Bottled Water pack is printed on FSC / recycled stock using biodegradable laminate and vegetable inks.

So what convinced TAP that Briton’s would entertain the idea of tap water?

Last month, Lisa and her friends took to the streets of London and invited 250 people to do a blind taste test.

They had four bottled waters and one tap water and asked people to name their favourite drink as well as whether or not they could detect the tap water.

* 84% of people failed to identify tap water

* 30% incorrectly identified Evian as tap water

* 22% incorrectly identified Fiji, the most expensive brand on the line-up, as tap water

* 30% actually preferred the taste of tap water

The figures speak for themselves don’t they? It shows that bottled water is not a matter of taste and preference, but a matter of branding and marketing.

According to We Want Tap, by the year 2050, over half the population will be suffering from severe water shortages. At the moment dirty water kills 1.8 million people a year. Ninety percent of these are children (that’s 3,900 dying every day).

I have to admit, when I first heard about TAP, I had the ‘gimmick’ monster peaking out at the screen, but within a few moments of talking to Lisa, I knew I had met a genuine woman with a passion and vision to bring about positive environmental change.

The company boast many eco credentials, not least the fact that Tap donates a huge 70% of its profits to fund water development projects in the developing world.

In addition, they are a carbon neutral company. TAP are continually working to reduce their carbon footprint. Lisa assures me that REDUCING is top of their list wherever possible, but anything that simply cannot be changed in the manufacture of their products and running of their office is offset.

We have two reusable bottles and two sticker sets to give away in our Pledge and WIN competition. Don’t miss your chance to win one, as I have a feeling these are going to really take off 😉

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  1. Ailbhe Leamy says:

    I think we use our water-bottles more than 10 times. We use them until they go all funny from washing in hot water. Am I about to learn that I’m endangering my children with plastic toxins now?

    What about the plant-starch biodegradable bottles? I forget the brand name now.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Alibhe,

    You post an interesting question and one about which the jury is still out.

    My limited understanding (and please do your own research as I am not an authority) is that some bottles used for the water and soft drinks industry may contain Bisphenol A.

    This is suspected of being hazardous to humans, in that it is an endocrine disruptor. So long term, low dose to bisphenol A can produce chronic toxicity.

    It might be linked to obesity as well as be carcinogenic and it seems to mess up with hormones which could lead to all sort of conditions. Breast cancer is suspected and reproductive, developmental and behavioural problems are indicated.

    So reusable bottles are flooding the market with the specific claim of “bisphenol A free”; which, incidentally is what the We Want Tap bottles are.

    There was a big thing about bisphenol A at the beginning of this year with respect to bottles for feeding babies. Many retailers pulled products from their shelves as a response to this.

    Some studies say it is harmful and toxic, whereas others say it’s perfectly safe.
    From my own health experiences, which I won’t go into here, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

    Bisphenol A is also known to leach out of lined cans – you know the ones with the white lining inside…..

    I think the challenge with it is, that no one really knows what a ‘safe’ level is. And, as with all things there will be those who jump on the bandwagon and claim it is the cause of all modern illnesses as well as those who claim plastic bottles are perfectly safe and we should just get on with it.

    Bisphenol A leaches out very quickly under heat, so you should never put warm or hot liquids in an old water bottle.
    The code that is really under scrutiny with regards to this is number 7. And, this chemical is particularly bad for foetuses (so avoid if pregnant), babies, children and those approaching puberty.

    Was it Belu who made the compostable bottles? I’m not sure about those with regards to health or the environment.

  3. Hi Mrs Green,

    This is a good topic. My bug bear is carbonated drinks, including water (Sparkling) as opposed to (Still) which I drink. I buy glass bottled water, buy once and reuse forever. Having a logo is a grand idea as people will see it, identify with it and then use it.
    The amount of plastic bottles 90% which end up in landfill is a shocker for someone, like myself, who rarely uses a landfill bag, never mind put recyclables in it.


  4. Mrs Green says:

    I must admit, I use glass too. Just one small bottle bought in a pub one day that I refill.

    I rather like the look of the kleen kanteen stainless steel ones, but they are not available in the UK.

    If one really wants bubbles, then I guess a soda stream is just the job!

  5. Ailbhe Leamy says:

    I’m wary of glass because I am always out with children doing active stuff. The effort involved in never dropping two glass bottles on top of each other, for example, would be small but continuous, when four of the hands involved aren’t my own.

    Have you seen http://www.orikaso.com/ ?

  6. Hi Ailbhe,

    You highlight one of the major factors in Zero Waste. The place children have in the scheme of things. Obviously, they will be the beneficiaries of our efforts to sustainable living. Until they can understand the reasons for and restrictions to Zero Waste activities, parents have to compromise their stance eg glass bottles are for adults use so an alternative has to be found; Chris bought a balloon, with plastic stick for her child.


  7. Mrs Green says:

    I understand your concerns with glass and children, Ailbhe – traditionally, they do not mix well.

    That site you pointed us to looks interesting. I can imagine it’s a godsend for climbers / ramblers. I’ll be looking further into the environmental impact of their products.

    John, combining the ethics of Zero waste with the lure of 21st century temptations for children is very challenging. Little Miss Green is of an age now where I can explain my choices to her. I don’t expect her to agree or even understand fully, but at least she has the information and seeds are sown for her own decision making.

    All I can do is empathise and offer that to her along with my reasons.

  8. Hi again,

    Do you think younger people like recycling etc? In my large family I am the number 1 recycler. The rest, of all ages, just listen to my rantings. When my 2nd (of 3 younger siblings) brother stayed with me for 15 weeks, he felt my recycling “wrath” on several occasions. He eventually left. Was it the recycling or the cooking? Joking, he moved to a furnished flat, lucky man.


  9. Mrs Green says:

    What age do you class as ‘younger’ in this instance, John?

    It seems from talking to people that many children of primary age take it under their wing quite happily. Teenagers seem to have little interest, will take carrier bags for one purchase and throw litter (I’m generalising before we get swamped with comments LOL!) and students are kind of back into it again.
    I’m not sure about those who have just left home and are starting out on their own.

    I’m tempted to ask how old you are – would that be a rude question?

    A friend of ours just got back from Brighton and told us horrifying stories of people on the beach there. They just left their entire picnic waste – all along the beach and **every day**, the council I presume, come along and clear everything up.

    Wouldn’t you think that recycling bins every 100yds or so along the beach would be the answer? In Brighton you could make them very arty and outrageous. They could put a years wages I would think into recycling bins.

    She was very despondent when she saw that taking place, plus as she walked through the towns people literally dropped their litter wherever they were.

    Having said that, there was a big festival going on, so I’m hoping someone from Brighton will read this and tell us the ‘real life’ scoop on it all……….

  10. Ailbhe Leamy says:

    My 4-year-old accepts that we don’t buy slave chocolate, don’t get carrier bags in shops, and re-use or recycle everything possible. She and my 2-year-old are both aware that we don’t leave mess or rubbish lying around, we clear them away and put things to be washed or in the bin (though the older one is a little less likely to remember, the younger one is naturally fastidious). They really do just take what we as parents say as universal truth, as far as I can tell.

  11. Kris says:

    I remember a programme ages ago in which Richard Hammond took to the streets and did a very similar blind taste test of tap water versus bottled. I think he also did some kind of marketing type thing trying to sell tap water at the inflated prices people seem happy to pay for the bottled stuff.

    My thought on ‘can you tell the difference?’ though is – there isn’t just one tap water flavour. Ours is alright, very nice after a run through a filter, but my in-laws at the end of the country have quite distinctly different tasting water and I’m not so good at choosing it over the fridge full of juice!

    I don’t know how good my younger siblings are at recycling, though my miniature niece certainly knows that toilet roll inners are used in the garden to encourage leeks :o) But my Mum is excellent and I can always turn to her for a chat (or moan) about local facilities.

  12. Kris says:

    Just remembered that I had an assertive moment last week and calmly told the friend who’d come to tea that funnily enough the only carrier bags that come into our house are all brought by him (with *one* item in… ack!!)

  13. Hi again,

    True enough all children are not the same, I had forgotten.
    It is their future world but maybe we have to do all the work. However, there was that student who was looking to decompose plastic waste with bacteria.
    I am 53 years old and happy to be that age, apart from the physical ageing.
    Bill Brydson is higlighting litter generally but, like with me, I imagine it it not an issue for your family. Another spin-off from Zero Waste.

  14. Poppy says:

    We also try to go for tap water, but some people are real water snobs. Last year during the Gloucestershire water crisis, I was helping out at a distribution point. The stack we were working on was Sac, which if I remember correctly, is Turkish. One women refused it and insisted that she had bottles from another stack which were I think Buxton or some such over priced example. She said that she only wanted English water for her tea!!

    I also have to say that we had some of the Evian. The whole pallet came wrapped in metres of pink plastic and looked as though it promised something extra special. I ‘treated’ my dog to some and she turned her nose up at it; she prefered eau de puddle 😉

    Kids and recycling – Mmmm, I think my son has got the message at the moment, probably more than his dad! Mum was a slow starter but seems quite keen now. Possibly because she lives nearer to facilities and it’s that much easier. My Bro is decidedly idle about the whole business and is currently trying to grow potatoes in his recycling box!

  15. Hi Poppy,

    The floods, last year, were horrible. How can they be prevented in future eg more trees, floodplains? Bottled water has its uses here and worldwide, in emergencies. Maybe that should be its sole purpose.
    Growing veg/fruit is very good for a youngster. By the time he gets to my age he will be an expert. Bokashi juice is excellent for single growth items eg leeks, onions.

  16. Mr Green says:

    Another interesting and informative article about bisphenol A on Scientific American

    Highights the problems of estrogen mimicker and carcinogen.

  17. Hi Mr Green,

    Scientific American is one of my old mags, an excellent publication. The biggest worry is on babies getting warm milk from such bottles. They mentioned the problem would be worst with hot liquid. A new mother’s concern for feeding. Other problems in older people may be indicated too as you suggest.

  18. Mrs Green says:

    Here at My Zero Waste we advocate the ultimate zero waste feeding of babies. Breastmilk is manufactured and delivered to the consumer without any pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste!
    Not to mention the health benefits to both babe and mother 😉

  19. Hi Mrs Green,

    Of course, mother’s feeding is best. The article was for general information particularly the quicker transfer under heated conditions. This is worth mentioning at least as a possible example, to alert readers.

  20. Mrs Green says:

    You’re right; I was just being soap boxish!

    it’s a very important issue to highlight. I know that there was a big rush to remove products from the shelves at the beginning of this year when the Bisphenol A stuff came out, so that was a good move.

    You can even buy glass feeding bottles now, which is a good choice.

  21. slurp says:

    No sorry. No tap in this house. The owners of this old building with it’s lead lined pipes decided to soften the tap water. I won’t drink it, seldom use it in cooking, unless there’s a snow storm and I’m out of bought, bottled water.

    There *are* perfectly good reasons to drink bottled water, without demonizing those of us who do.

  22. Layla says:

    Yup, lead is bad.

    Just curious, how did the owners decide to ‘soften’ the tap water?

    Slurp, are you getting glass water bottles – are they available where you live?
    No one’s trying to demonize anyone here, it’s just that often people do buy plastic bottles for unnecessary reasons and are not even aware of the problem.. (I too until recently thought a much bigger percentage, like 80% or 90% got recycled!! It would still be great to get accurate numbers from organisations who deal with this directly..)

    Glass is much more frequently recycled and may be a much better option if bottled water is needed.
    (For Slovenia, *targets* for 2012 for recycling are: for plastics 22.5%, and for glass 60%! Not sure about UK rates, probably somewhat similar?)

    Interesting discussion! Not sure how uhm, buying plastic bottles can be eco/zero waste? I love the ‘branding’ idea, would prefer it used on glass bottles or such?
    If copolyester is recyclable – is it truly recycled too?

    Ailbhe, a friend of mine uses a glass bottle and has used it for long years now, even when her kid was 4 years old – not sure about earlier, must ask her. She puts it into a fabric cotton DIY ‘bag’ that fits the bottle perfectly and if anything did break, it would stay in the cloth bag and could be removed easily! It’s also easy to carry around, as it has handles. (Hope I’ll someday manage to persuade her to let me take a pic!) It’s got a lid that can be opened with one hand only (a system with some wire I think) so if she has her hands full, it’s easier. She just has one kid though, so this may make it easier too..
    She says she’s never broken it, if I remember it right! (And she’s been camping to far-off places with it!)
    I imagine you could even add some padding to such a cloth bag?

  23. Mrs Green says:

    @slurp: Hello Slurp, welcome to the site. On the contrary; I don’t demonise or point the finger at anyone who chooses to drink bottled water.
    Until a year ago I was buying 2 litres of bottled water per day for myself as well. I bought it in glass which I then recycled.
    Fortunately we have new pipes now, but I am not very convinced about the safety of flouride, chlorine, hormones or anything else in the water supply plus I can’t stand the taste of it. What I do now is boil the tap water, let it cool and drink it that way. I would still PREFER to drink bottled water, but have now made a choice I am happy with.

  24. Bridget says:

    Some years ago I bought 3 ‘we want tap’ water bottles, cost £6 each, for myself and 2 grown-up daughters. I have been delighted with them, but find that they must be kept upright, otherwise they leak. Not quite sure whether the leak is coming from the top or whether water has collected underneath the metal bit at the bottom. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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