Ecowell: An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Vending Machines

Thanks to students, Brian Boler, Andy Whitaker and Reid Schilperoort, we can now officially say goodbye to vending machines full of plastic bottles. This team of entrepreneurs has managed to make reusable water bottles even more convenient with their recent class-project-turned-business-venture:

Ecowell. A vending kiosk that dispenses hot, cold or carbonated water with a choice of over 20 fruit juice flavors, two sweeteners and five vitamin supplements. This eco-friendly alternative to vending machines allows you to create your own beverage, dispensing it straight into your own reusable Klean Kanteen. None of the fruit juice flavors contain high fructose corn syrup, and the kiosk can dispense any combination of flavors, light or full, depending on your preference. Both of these features allow you to create a healthier beverage than those which are normally available in standard vending machines. Moreover, with Ecowell’s convenient Tap-Tag system, patrons can create an account right at the kiosk and use their Tap-Tag to select and pay for their drinks at each visit. Ecowell is a great invention for office buildings and schools where bottled water and soda are consumed on a regular basis.

Beverages ordered and filled at the Ecowell kiosk are less expensive than the average bottle of water, juice or soda purchased from a conventional vending machine. A 16-oz. cold glass of purified water is $0.55. Add three fruit flavors and pay only $1.50. Considering that a Vitamin Water is usually at least $1.75, and a Snapple beverage can cost around $2.50, students and workers are getting a great deal for a customized, healthy, eco-friendly beverage. For example, instead of buying a Focus Kiwi-Strawberry Vitamin Water, you can simply create your own mix of fruit-flavored water and add the “StudyBoost” vitamin supplement for added focus and retention.

Ecowell truly leaves the consumer with no excuses to drink bottled water. At home, you can make your own flavored water with the PUR flavor options pitcher or PUR faucet mount with flavor options. With the Ecowell kiosk, now you can make your own flavored water and even soda. This new invention might just make more schools consider banning bottled water.

Nestle Waters Sued for Trying to be Eco-Friendly

The family of a woman in Central Indiana who died when a 4,100 pound pallet of bottled water fell on her at a Kroger store is suing Nestle Waters, arguing that the reason for the accident lies in the water bottles’ “eco-shape” design.  According to the family, these bottles use less plastic, and therefore, can’t support as much weight as previous bottles.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of bottled water, and Nestle’s motives behind this supposed “eco-friendly” water bottle design are questionable (is this simply more green washing to boost profit?) But this might just be good enough to make it onto the list of the “10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of All Time.” Right up there with the one that started it all… (how dare McDonald’s serve hot coffee without a warning label?!? And how dare Nestle serve water in a bottle that might be better for the environment!) Apparently, “Nestle Waters didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.” Honestly, though Nestle might be among the worst corporations of 2010, and although they might fully deserve to be sued, I can’t say I blame them.

Bottled water is clearly dangerous, on multiple levels. But manufacturing bottles with more plastic is not the solution, as it only leads to a worse fate for our planet – and the billions of people living on it. This incident is just one of several recent incidents which underscore the dangers of bottled water -  providing even more incentive to drop the bottled water habit, altogether.

Boomerang Water Bottling System

Clearwater Manufacturing, a company in Huntersville, NC has created a mini-water bottling machine that sanitizes, fills and caps aluminum and glass bottles on site. The company plans to lease or sell the machines to hospitals, universities, companies, military bases, theme parks and cruise lines.

The invention, which is called the Boomerang Water Bottling System, makes six bottles a minute. The bottles can be kept as souvenirs or returned and reused. This eco-friendly solution eliminates the need for trucks to deliver bottled water, cutting down on vehicle emissions. Obtaining a fresh bottle of water is as simple as pressing the start button: first, bottles are disinfected, rinsed and drained; then FDA-approved municipal tap water is filtered through a series of processes and used to fill the bottles; special caps are sanitized and pressed onto the bottles which are then ready to be displayed for sale. All of this occurs on-site, inside of a  machine that is no bigger than a commercial-sized ice maker.

The name “Boomerang” indicates that the return and reuse of bottles is the overall goal, and so far it has been relatively successful. This is more than we can say for the recycling of plastic water bottles. Perhaps one day these machines will be able to bottle soda and other flavored drinks on-site, eliminating the need for the manufacturing and transport of plastic bottled drinks altogether. Look out Coca-Cola. Clearwater is on a mission to save the planet!