If you’re a dedicated reusable water bottle carrier, you know two challenges that eco-minded drinkers face. One, it’s tough to find an effective system to help you refill the bottle (airport drinking fountains, I’m looking at you). And two, you still need to find good-tasting, bottle-quality water to fill it. For many, an easy-to-use filtration system installed somewhere quick and convenient in the home could solve both of those issues. 3M, working with IDEO, has created the Filtrete Water Station, a countertop reservoir that not only filters your water, it administers it into four reusable bottles, at-the-ready for your next trip out the door.
Most filtration devices are found either as part of the kitchen sink, or in a pitcher in the fridge, that can take up to 15 minutes to drip filtered water into the base. But 3M had a secret weapon in that their Filtrete Water Station is able to process water in real-time. So within a few seconds, valves in the vessel will drop the filtered water into portable bottles that are just as convenient as throwaway bottles. That’s four bottles that will be filling at once, and extra bottles can even be purchased and stashed in the fridge.
Using the real-time filtration as a touchpoint, IDEO and 3M brought the filter to the countertop, where a sharp look has a greater presence in the household — as essential as any other kitchen appliance. In this way, the designers hope that having the bottles front and center — filled, filtered and ready — can help to change behavior, as users will be more likely to reach for the reusable bottle when it’s just as easy as reaching for the disposable kind.
Still, does this solve a real problem? If you’re one of the millions who use water filters, probably. But for many, filling bottles up from the sink works just fine, and some of us don’t mind the taste of tap water (or waiting 15 minutes for our Brita to filter it). Plus, it’s not like the system is completely automated: You still have to relocate the vessel to the kitchen sink in order to fill it, and the reusable bottles are small — 16 ounces isn’t quite enough to keep you hydrated throughout the day. But the one thing that Filtrete does have going for it is that it’s cheap: the Filtrete retails at Walmart for $37.44. That same amount would buy you three Sigg waterbottles, no filtration included.