Bill Gates Reinvents the Toliet

Bill Gates is reinventing the toilet. That’s right; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is donating a staggering $41.5 million dollars in grants to various organizations involved in developing new sanitation technology.  Here is a breakdown of where some of the funds will be going:

  • $12 million dollars is going to the African Development Bank in their effort to bring sanitation management services to 1.5 urban poor in sub-Saharan Africa
  • $10 million is going to a German-Kenyan collaboration to improve sanitation services for people living in Kenya
  • $8 million to UNESCO Institute for Water Education, increasing education focus on water solutions that work for the poor
  • $8.5 million going to USAID’s “WASH for Life”, this program will try and determine the best ways to deliver sanitation, water and hygiene services to the poor.

 

Perhaps the most interesting use of the $41.5 million dollar donation is the $3 million that is going towards the “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge.” This grant will support eight universities across the world, including CalTech, Delft University, and Stanford to participate in the challenge of reinventing the modern toilet. The challenge outlines include remodeling the toilet as a stand-alone unit that does not use piped in water, electricity or a sewer connection. In addition, the unit has to work on less than 5 CENTS A DAY.

Although one of the smaller financial commitments, the Reinventing the Toilet Challenge presents a unique opportunity to change the world. The invention of the toilet nearly 200 years ago significantly changed the world.  As Sylvia Matthew Burwell, president of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stated:

“No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save the lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by the  invention of the toilet,” Burwell continued, “But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches. New ideas. In short, we need to reinvent the toilet.”

There have already been some rather interesting ideas generated in regards to this challenge. For example, turning waste into useful fertilizer or the creation of “dry toilets”. Whether a new toilet is invented or not, the nearly $42 million dollar donation will, no doubt, allow for significant advances and aid to those countries that need it most. While many people in Western countries take their toilets for granted, most people around the world do not have access to fresh running water or toilets. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seek to change all that, and along the way, hope to reinvent the toilet

The World of Water Education: Project WET

Instead of focusing on a Water Charity this Tuesday, we chose nonprofit organization Project WET. This organization focuses on water education through reaching out to teachers, community members, children, and parents in the United States and around the world. Project WET achieves this goal through publishing informative water materials in different languages, creating school curriculum for different age groups, and sponsoring trainings around the world. Project WET also organizes community water events such as the Global Water Education Village. This event is held every three years at the World Water Forum, the last one was held in Istanbul, Turkey. The goal of the Global Water Education Village is to discuss local actions in water education that are successful at reaching children.

Project WET is committed to reaching out to audiences around the world and in ushering water education into the twenty-first century.  Most recently, Project WET has teamed up with the National Park Service.  In a press release issued on June 22, 2011, Project WET and the National Park Service announced that they would be collaborating on an educational series titled, “Discover the Waters of Our National Parks.”  This science based program will include hands-on activities, videos, special workshops, online courses, guides and an internet portal. Project WET President, Dennis Nelson stated, “Water connects our national parks to each other and to the people of the United States through the water cycle, making national parks a perfect springboard for educating people about water.” This project is going be launched at select national parks within the next year, so keep a look out at your local park!

Project WET’s website offers lots of links for parents, educators, corporations and museums.  If you want to get involved, there are plenty of avenues for that, too. Of course, you can donate on their secure website in any amount you choose, but you can also choose some more innovative ways as well. For example, you can sponsor a classroom and provide a Water and Sustainability Kit which includes copies of various activity and educational booklets for every child.  If you want to be more hands on, you can train to become a Project WET facilitator. After completing the course, you can deliver workshops to teachers and educators in your area. A great way to get involved in your community for a worthy cause!

So this week, Project WET is our pick for a great water focused organization. If you’re a teacher, parent or just someone interested in making a difference through water education, be sure to check out Project WET!

Check it Out: CannedWater4Kids

The amount of water charities around the world seem to grow exponentially every year.  Many of these organizations are both headquartered and focused on serving foreign countries, making seeing the effect of your donation difficult. However, Wisconsin based CannedWater4Kids is changing all that. They have created an attractive, visible product by manufacturing colorful aluminum cans filled with purified drinking water. They hope that these cans will not only provide fresh water to children in need, but will soon serve as the symbol of clean water awareness. With $0.95 cents of every dollar donated guaranteed to go directly to those children who need fresh water, you can be ensured that your hard earned dollars are going towards doing the most good.

So why aluminum cans? There are many reasons, but it is primarily due to the fact that more and more people understand the importance of recycling to ensure global sustainability. Therefore, the aluminum can serves as a recognizable, economical, and safe way to bring clean, purified water to kids in need around the world.  Also, aluminum cans have a small environmental footprint, maintain a long shelf life, and can go from the recycling bin to the store shelf in 60 short days.

CannedWater4Kids has already made a difference in many places around the world. Shortly after the earthquake in Japan, CannedWater4Kids shipped52,800 cans of purified water to people living in schools, orphanages, and evacuation centers in the Minami-Sanriku area that completely relied on water from outside sources. The charity also works in conjunction with various other organizations including Engineers Without Borders at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.  This group of Engineers is working to build purification plants in the Highlands of Guatemala and they did not forget to bring CannedWater4Kids with them to pass out to the local community.

How can you get involved? As with many other water based charities, monetary donations are always welcome. You can do this over CannedWater4Kids secure website or via snail mail. Another innovative way to get involved is to purchase a colorful 12 or 24 pack case of the purified CannedWater4Kids water. Not only will this serve as an interesting conversation piece at your next family gathering, but the water tastes great and your donation will be going to a more than worthy cause. At just a dollar a can, you can make a donation while getting water that is both purified and eco-friendly. Small business and retail store owners also have the option to stock the water in their store by contacting info@cannedwater4kids.org.

So this week, our charity is CannedWater4Kids. They have created an imaginative, fun product that can be seen as a symbol of water charity consciousness. Priding themselves on doing the most good with your donation dollars, getting involved with CannedWater4Kids is a great way to begin working with water charities.