Convenience comes with a price.
Brian Denton realized that three years ago and set out to make a change — not only in his own life, but also in the lives of others.
At the time, Denton, like many people, was spending nearly $20 every week on bottled water for the gym.
It was convenient.
But the single-use plastic bottles were piling up in his car and he knew he needed to find an alternative.
A book on the increasing privatization of our global water supply flipped the light switch on for Denton and he began researching ways to reduce the environmental waste of plastic bottles.
Eighteen months later, in the summer of 2008, he launched Project Earth H2o bottles, a product line of 20-ounce reusable and eco-friendly stainless steel bottles.
That venture, which started in the Carlisle area out of Denton’s home, has generated a lot of online buzz across the country ever since.
Project Earth H2o was recognized at the end of last year as one of the top 10 greenest businesses in StartupNation’s third annual Home-Based 100 competition.
“Winning this award really provides a great sense of validation,” he said in November about the honor. “It’s important to share that validation and this award with the growing number of people who are realizing the importance of proactive behavior.”
Also in the past year, Project Earth H2o launched its second line of stainless steel bottles — a bigger 27-ounce bottle — and partnered with charitable causes that receive $2 from every bottle sold. They had been contributing 10 percent of every bottle.
“Our goal is to provide a healthy alternative and drive awareness of why that is important,” Denton said. “People are slowly realizing that they can make a difference.”
Because of increased sales, Project Earth H2o has moved warehousing and distribution of its bottles to Baltimore.
What most Americans don’t realize is that a lot of the plastic bottles are made of PET No. 1, or polyethylene terephthalate, and polycarbonate No. 7 plastic.
Polycarbonate bottles leach a substance known as Bisphenol-A, a chemical that has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the body’s hormones.
Project Earth H2o products are 100 percent free of BPA and can be safely washed and reused over and over again.
More than 70 million single-use water bottles are sold every day in the United States alone, Denton noted. And nine out of 10 empty bottles end up in the trash.
“Bottled water is a $16 billion a year business in the U.S.,” Denton said. “Worldwide, it’s over $100 billion a year.”
And he points out that about 40 percent of all bottled water is just regular tap water.
Hoping to protect some of the world’s freshwater supply from privatization, Project Earth H2o has partnered with Natural and Culture International.
“They are a very well-run, efficient organization which spends over 90 percent of its budget directly on projects and keeps its expenses to a minimum,” said Daisy Critser, the director of charitable relations for Project Earth H2o. “NCI has been instrumental in organizing local communities and regional government authorities to declare 4.5 million acres as Amazon protected areas, an astounding figure when you think about it.”
Critser, who lives on the West Coast, said she got involved with Project Earth H2o three years ago because she wanted to help provide a safe alternative to plastic bottles.
“As the mother of two small children, I was horrified to learn of the dangers of BPA exposure,” she said. “As a resident of southern California who spends a great deal of time outdoors and at the beach, I was also becoming increasingly aware of the impact of single-use water bottles on our environment. One only needs to look at the (Great) Pacific Garbage Patch to understand the enormity of this issue.”
The Patch is the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.
This year figures to be a crucial year for Project Earth H2o, Denton said.
At the end of last year, the product line started selling its first retail store, which is Conte’s Bicycle and Fitness Equipment in Virginia.
Denton said he is looking to sell the bottles at other stores this year.
Moving forward, he is also hoping to establish a scholarship fund at local universities for environmental education students, as well as partner with a school of higher education on a water vending machine idea.
Together with Aqua Polar, a purified water and ice systems company, Project Earth H2o would like to partner with a university to place a vending machine on campus that would tie into the school’s water line and provide filtered water for students.
“This would be a great fit for a university trying to drastically reduce plastic waste associated with bottled water,” Denton said, noting that he has been in contact with a few schools already about the proposal.
The vending machine would save the school money, he said, also planning to sell the Project Earth H2o bottles — custom designed to match school colors — at the machine and on campus.
“We want to make a difference. We are not just in it for the money,” Denton said about his grassroots company, which has less than 10 employees.