A new start-up is on a mission is to convince people to stop purchasing bottled water.
The start-up founded an app called ‘Tap’ that launched on Tuesday. It shows all nearby clean drinking water locations, from cafes to public water fountains, all so you can fill up your water bottle. It’s essentially a Google Maps for clean drinking water.
“Being thirsty is inconvenient, “said founder Samuel Rosen. He thought of the idea when the only available drinking water fountain at an airport was broken, and he was forced to pay $5 for a bottle of Evian. “I thought it was ridiculous that in 2018 I’m buying a plastic water bottle that’s going to last 450 years on earth because I couldn’t trust the drinking water at the fountain.”
The Tap app is available free of cost on Android and iOS, and highlights over 34,000 refill stations across 7,100 cities and 30 countries. The company spent a couple of months crowdsourcing locations around the world that are either open to the public, or accepting of people coming into their establishments for water refills. Over 1,000 outposts have signed up to become partners with the app in New York alone.
“Instead of building water fountains, why not use our existing businesses? It’s great for them-they get more people who are eco-conscious coming into their store. And even if these people don’t buy anything, it’s great brand equity.”
Rosen is the CFO and former CEO of an on-demand storage firm called MakeSpace. He left his CEO position at the start-up in November 2017. He hopes that by making it easy and accessible to find water nearby, people will cut down on unnecessary plastic waste.
“Water is a mispriced public good,” Rosen told CNN. “I believe we, as consumers, have been robbed of our own water and sold back to us by corporations.”
Some stores are even putting up blue “Tap” signs in their store windows to signal that their establishment is open to thirsty patrons. The app provides profiles on each location detailing what types of water it offers, whether its free or not, or whether it’s a counter service or a drinking fountain. The app can also show people the status of the drinking water around them so that they can make informed choices. Once a fountain breaks or begins to taste contaminated, users can report it on the app.
A few weeks ago, the UN Intergovernmental Panel released a climate change report which showed that global warming is reaching a disastrous state if nothing changes by 2030. The report claimed that this could result in arid drought, wildfires, floods, and famines for hundreds of millions of people.
Plastic waste is a massive contributor to carbon emissions, which cause the planet’s temperature to rise. According to the World Economic Forum, eight million tons of plastic enter the world’s water supply each year. By 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish if we continue at our current rate of plastic waste disposal.
Tap isn’t the first app to connect people to drinking water resources. A Non-profit called WeTap is an app that has been around for over six years, and helps people find the closest public drinking water fountains.
If Tap is able to take off, it’s unclear how retailers will react if hoards of people rush into their stores to get a drink of water.
Nonetheless, Rosen insists that “the future is bottomless”.