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Thinking outside of the bottle
Brian Denton talks about his eco-friendly water bottles. (Karissa Zimmer/The Sentinel)

Eighteen months ago, Brian Denton was spending almost $20 a week on bottled water for the gym.

Then he came across a book that focused on the increasing privatization of our global water supply and “a light bulb came on,” he said, prompting him to take action.

Denton says he knew the bottles he purchased, many of which had been piling up in his car, weren’t safe to be reused and that they were clogging up our national landfills, but it was convenient.

That portable convenience has led to over 38 billion single-use bottles being tossed into the trash every year across the country.

“I wanted to create a bottle that was safe and eco-friendly,” the North Middleton Township resident said, and so he started a company called Project Earth H2O.

Most Americans don’t realize the bottled water they drink to stay healthy poses a tremendous threat to the environment, Denton explained, as most of these bottles are made of PET No. 1, or polyethylene terephthalate, and polycarbonate No. 7 plastic.

PET is intended for single-use only, and the bottles begin to form bacteria when they are exposed to the air.

Polycarbonate reusable bottles leach a substance known as Bisphenol-A, a chemical that has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the body’s hormones. BPA has been linked to a wide range of diseases, including, but not limited to breast cancer, uterine cancer, decreased testosterone levels in men, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes and neurodevelopmental disorders in young children.

In June, after 18 months of research and preparation work, Denton’s company began selling a high-grade reusable stainless steel bottle. It is also in the process of rolling out custom-made polypropylene No. 5 bottles.

Both are made of materials approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. They are 100 percent free of BPA and can safely be washed and reused over and over again.

“There are a lot of reusable water bottles, but no one is making a bottle meant to serve every day needs,” Denton said, noting those commonly associated with gym, camping and hiking activities.

Driving awareness

In an era where outsourcing has become the norm in the business world, Denton expresses his commitment to keeping American jobs American and giving back to the community by manufacturing all Project Earth H2O custom products in the United States.

He is hoping his company will one day be the first to manufacture steel bottles in the U.S. Currently, they are all made in China.

Project Earth H2O is trying to drive awareness to the fact that only about 2 percent of the world’s water supply is fresh, drinkable water. Out of that, 1.6 percent is in the polar ice caps.

At the current pace — 70 million bottles of water sold in the U.S. every day and nine billion gallons of bottled water consumed each year in the U.S. — the bottled water industry, with annual profits of over $100 billion, is having a profound impact on the fresh water supply, world environment and economy.

“If we don’t stop it, all the fresh water needs will have to be purchased from multi-national corporations,” Denton said.

The United Nations is projecting that in 17 years over two-thirds of our world’s population will not have enough water to sustain the basics of life.

“This is something that affects us all,” Denton said. “It will impact our children’s lives and future generations.”

And he points out that 40 percent of all bottled water is just regular tap water. Project Earth H2O is encouraging people to fill up reusable, eco-friendly bottles with filtered tap water in an effort to stop corporate theft.

Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed each year to produce and transport bottled water in the U.S., Denton added.

Giving back

Since launching the stainless steel product in June, Denton’s company has sold about 4,000 bottles.

All of that shopping is being done online right now, but Project Earth H2O does plan to get the steel and forthcoming polypropylene water bottles into stores and eventually on QVC.

The company is currently seeking positive environmental causes to partner with, Denton explained. It plans to donate 10 percent of all profits back to these charities.

“We’re just trying to take awareness to the next level,” he said. “We are really trying to make a difference.”

Jeff Schmidt can relate to that. The director of the Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania chapter explained that his organization is very concerned about the growing use of disposable water bottles.

“The Sierra Club strongly encourages people to stop using throw-away plastic water bottles and start using refillable bottles, due to the energy savings, reduced garbage in landfills and reduced need to use precious petroleum,” he said. “There is so much emphasis on personal convenience, but no concern about what it does to the environment. The more we drink from these bottles, the more oil we use.”