Made in Berlin: Water Bottles With Soul

Every day we see things that bother us, things like people dumping garbage irresponsibly, things like people throwing away half-consumed food, empty plastic bags, and bottles flying around in every public place. When I used the word “people”, I have already included you and I - we are all part of these problems; at best we recognize the fact but that's it. We don't do anything most of the time. But some people do a little more than that; they try to change things no matter how small an impact that change makes - it still counts. I came across a Berliner start-up which is a successful example of what I've just described.

This is an interesting Berliner Start-up called "Soul Bottles". They make beautiful, plastic-free, hip flask drinking bottles, customized to your style. These bottles can be used until you break them, hence reducing your carbon footprint. This successful start-up is the brainchild of Georg Tarne and Paul Kupfer who had a keen eye for this problem and the hazards of plastic water bottles. However, unlike many others, they also understood the market in this area very well and turned their environmental effort into a sustainable business.

The Idea

Georg always wanted to live an ecologically sustainable life - he had been looking for a drinking bottle that was plastic-free, because he didn’t want any plastic to enter his body, no matter how small the amount. But he didn’t find any. That’s why he used empty vodka and whiskey bottles for most of that year, much to the amusement of his friends. (And strangers on public transportation, but that’s a different story.)

So, he thought, wouldn't it be great to have plastic-free drinking bottles with really cool designs on them? So that he could finally get the drinking bottle of his dreams? And so that other people who still drink bottled water would finally be convinced to make the switch? He told his best friend Paul about this. Paul agreed. They researched printing on bottles, and when they produced the first bottles by hand, many of their friends – and a huge number of complete strangers – also agreed. They bought up the first few production runs in no time.

It was hard work and a long road, but after the first investment by an experienced entrepreneur Bernardo Saorin, the idea finally took off.  Now, SoulBottles is a red dot design-award winner and has had a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign. It's now taking on the bottled water industry giants and their oversized marketing budgets.

That’s how the idea – and the business – of SoulBottles was born.

Some Facts

So, once upon a time, we all drank this great stuff from the tap, and paid next to nothing for it. Then, along came bottled water. In 1970, every German drank 12l of bottled water. In 2012, that number had risen to 137l - more than 11 times as much. The numbers in the US and the UK are similar, but, unlike Germany, the empty bottles are not being processed in the same way.

It’s sad, but simple. Bottled water had better marketing. In 1974, the French water bottler “Perrier” started marketing its water in Britain, at a time when being French was seen as ‘chic’ and aspirational to the middle classes. The marketing hit a nerve and sales soared.

Subsequently, international PR and marketing campaigns about the usually seriously over-exaggerated risks of tap water followed. The bottled water market exploded and every year, tap water lost more steam. The thing about plastic is that it poses a high risk to the environment. It's made from non-renewable resources; it takes a lot of energy and many toxins to produce, and it takes about 500-1000 years to decompose when it's thrown away, while still emitting toxins into its surroundings.

Your Own Soulmate

SoulBottles also lets you create your own very special customized bottles, and has a huge amount of options in their online shop. We hope that you have fun creating your own soulmate.

This start-up is very successful but still just a small step towards responsible living. I hope that this could be an example and a thought-provoking idea for all of us and that, one day, this small step could have a big impact in reducing our carbon footprint on this planet.
By Daniyal Waseem

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