Bottled water costs 300 to 10,000 times more than drinking from the tap, even when–in the case of brands like Dasani or Aquafina–it’s made from tap water itself. But people keep buying it anyway. It’s the most popular beverage in the U.S., with nearly 1,600 bottles sold per second. One reason is simple convenience. People get thirsty away from home, and it’s the easy answer.
For a U.K. entrepreneur, the everyday problem of getting thirsty on a daily commute was the inspiration for a new product: A reusable bottle that’s easy to carry anywhere.
“As an environmentalist and entrepreneur, I was frustrated at having to buy a bottle of water at the train station out of sheer thirst,” says Guy Jeremiah, managing director for the startup Ohyo. “Challenged by my mother to carry a bottle like my father, an enthusiastic hiker, I pointed out that I could not fit a bottle in my pocket, and there was nowhere to fill it.”
The result was Ohyo, a bottle with a patented design that allows it to fold up more tightly, accordian-style, than any folding bottle in the past. It’s small enough to easily fit in a pocket or a tiny purse, a little like this collapsible coffee mug. Jeremiah also built a corresponding app called Find a Fountain, which maps out London water fountains, starting with data that he collected by biking around the city.
Ohyo’s first “Collapsabottle” was a success, selling over 600,000 units so far. Jeremiah sees it as proof of shifting consumer desires. “I believe that clever marketing from the bottled water companies from the 1980s had falsely convinced people that they have the healthier, handier water solution,” Jeremiah says. “But 150 billion wasted bottles a year are leading people to question if this is the best way of hydrating people on the move.”
Now, the company hopes to expand into the U.S., and into sport and outdoor markets, with a larger version of the same bottle, though a valiant attempt at raising money on Kickstarter to try to meet a goal for a first production run wasn’t so successful.