EcoBeat Staff – Clean water is fundamental for survival, yet as many as 783 million people worldwide do not have access to it. According to The Water Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on providing training and financial support for sustainable water development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, “up to 80% of all illnesses in developing countries stem from poor water conditions.” This leads to “443 million lost school days each year across the world due to preventable sicknesses.” In 2010, The United Nations went so far as to propose a “new” human right that guarantees access to clean water to everyone. When brought up for a vote, 122 nations voted in favor of adoption, while the United States abstained along with 40 others.
While access to water is an issue unto itself, take a look below for some innovative water purification products that address the cleanliness of available water. Many of these products even offer ways of donating filtration devices to support communities in need of purification devices around the world.
LifeStraw Series Filters – Weighing in at just 2 ounces, the LifeStraw ($20) by VESTERGAARD is one of the most innovative products on the market. Under a foot in length and resembling an over-sized straw, this device allows users to dip one end in to contaminated water, while sipping through the top end. It is as simple as that. Within the straw’s encasing, a hollow fiber membrane traps 99.9% of pathogens, 99.9999% of bacteria, and any other harmful contaminants. The lifespan of this product is slightly limited at just 1,000 litres or 264 gallons; however, this is one of the only products in existence that does not require users to boil or treat the water at all before/after filtration. This all-in-one design makes the LifeStraw perfect for disaster response, as well as camping and backpacking adventures. VESTERGAARD has taken on a similar policy to that of TOMS: For every LifeStraw purchased, a LifeStraw is donated to a student in a developing country. To learn more, check out the product series HERE.
Sawyer Series Filters – Similar to the LifeStraw, the Sawyer MINI Water Filter ($18) is just 2 ounces and its hollow fiber filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa. Two differences make this product stand out: the life of 100,000 gallons of filtered water and the ability to clean the filtration system to maintain filtration quality. Better yet, this system fits in the palm of your hand and can be attached to either a straw, or any number of different water containers, from the lip of a water bottle to the straw of your camel-back water pack. When considering cost and overall functionality, few filters other than the LifeStraw can begin to compare. Sawyer filters have been a longtime favorite of outdoors enthusiasts, though it is not uncommon to hear some complaints about clogging in the filter. One way to mitigate this is to wrap a cloth around the entry point to prevent larger particulate matter from clogging the internal filtration components. Additionally, we hesitate to believe the 100,000 gallon lifespan as this is significantly beyond anything offered by any other product on the market, even those with the same type of hollow fiber filter. For more, check out Sawyer’s line of filters HERE.
AquaPail – The AquaPail ($100) is exactly what it sounds like: a large bucket-like container that is filled with a variety of different materials to create a gravity filter. This product is not meant to be your traveling companion, weighing in at a hefty 11.2 pounds; however, its ability to filter large quantities of water quickly makes it appealing for disaster situations where entire communities are without access to clean water. As contaminated water is fed in through the top of the device, water instantly passes through the multi-layered filter and out the bottom in to your clean storage container. Aside from the weight, the other major downfall of this product is the lifespan: up to 400, 1000, 3000, or 5000 gallons depending on the model. There are mixed reviews in terms of whether or not to boil the water before consumption, with some saying yes and others saying they have dumped pond water through the filter without any problems. In the end, the AquaPail represents a more traditional approach to water filtration while delivering on the speed factor. For more on the AquaPail product line, click HERE.
Fieldtrate lite – The most unassuming of the 5 when it comes to looks, the Fieldtrate lite ($27) by WATEROAM is a remarkable ceramic membrane filtration system developed in Singapore and deployed in the 2014 East Malaysia Flood Relief and in the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. This foldable bag-like system is extremely portable and easy to store thanks to its flexible design, 400 gram weight (14 ounces), and minimal set-up. The product can filter between 6-10 litres of water per hour, removing all particulate matter; however, the resulting water must still be boiled before consumption. While the boiling factor represents an obstacle for areas stricken by natural disasters, the Fieldtrate lite makes up for that shortcoming by clocking in with a 3-5 year lifespan. Learn more HERE.
*Biofilters: The use of biofilters as a means to treat water has been a recent idea as well. While not yet an actual “product” for public use, a Young Naturalist Award was presented in 2012 to New York state high school student for her research on using filters based on living plants to remove common household pollutants from water. The initial research indicated that both biofilters, a water-based filter of dwarf water lily (nymphaea) combined with floating duckweed and a land-based filter made of nut grass weeds, sand and peat moss on top of a cheesecloth/wire mesh opening, functioned as a pre-treatment system for wastewater. With laundry detergent as the pollutant, both biofiltration systems treated the water back to almost tap-water quality. While the result is still gray water, lessening the harmful impact of this wastewater before it is deposited in the natural environment could have huge implications for wastewater utilities and potentially even agricultural runoff. Learn more HERE.