2012-03-22

Co.Exist

Branding The Unthinkable Drinkable

If we’re forced to drink water made from human waste, how will we sell it?

Our planet has as much water today as it did at the dawn of time. No more, no less. It’s just a lot dirtier. For a billion people worldwide a sip of clean water is often beyond reach. It’s a very bad situation that fortunately has a lot of important people doing something about it.

Matt Damon is putting his celebrity behind Water.org with it’s global initiative. Blue Planet Run's model has followers running for the cause. Charity Water is funneling donations to the Third World to address the crisis. The Gates Foundation has offered a million-dollar prize and challenged designers to rethink the toilet. A goal from this initiative is the additional benefit of converting raw human waste to drinking water. Yes, you read that correctly.

A segment on NPR entitled "Why Cleaned Wastewater Stays Dirty in Our Minds" caught my attention. The broadcast revealed the simple fact that we are already drinking wastewater. "We are all downstream from someone else’s poo but the idea of this is unthinkable," says psychologist Carol Nemeroff. " It is quite difficult to get the cognitive sewage out of the water even when the real sewage is gone."

I wondered what would I do if some mega bottler asked me to brand a new "wastewater" product. I made some sketches that offer some possibilities. You can see them above.

Of course, it will take more than branding to convince consumers to take that first sip. But the truth is, as you reach for that bottled water on your desk, it’s already been through someone’s "system." I think I’ll stick with vodkaka.

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