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New Water Stations in Miami Beach help Fight Plastic Waste

By Francisco Navarro

Everyone brings that ice-cold bottle of water to cool down that insatiable thirst you experience on a sunny day at the beach. But what happens to the bottle after you finish the drink?

Thousands of plastic bottles are uncontrollably piling up across the shorelines of the United States. As 60 million bottles of water are used every day in the US, the fight against plastic waste is becoming harder.

Last year’s International Coastal Cleanup removed nearly 1,500 pounds of plastic waste along the Miami Beach shoreline. This means that we need to find new ways to drink water in a sustainable way for the environment. A start-up company called Woosh Water has implemented new ‘smart’ water stations along the Miami Beach shoreline for people to rehydrate while reducing overall plastic consumption.

Woosh Water stations are digital touch screen kiosks meant to give  everybody an accessible way to clean and refill reusable bottles. Every time someone uses the station, it shows the user a message stating how many plastic bottles end up as waste in the ocean and how many plastic bottles have been saved by the use of Woosh Water.

Environmentalist  Dara Shoenwald, Director of Woosh Water Community Outreach, is strongly driven by the program’s potential impact in the community.

We have a great opportunity to change people’s mindset and behavior; and provide an easy way for people to adopt more environmentally friendly lifestyles,” said Shoenwald. “Even the presence of the stations helps to drive consciousness and a conversation about reducing plastic waste.”

The smart water stations have a unique technology that permits it to rinse, sanitize and fill a bottle with purified locally tapped water using an ozone filtration process. Since it’s always connected to electricity, the water coming out could potentially be cooler than the bottled water bought at the convenience store. The refilling process takes less than 30 seconds. If the user decides to rinse and sanitize the bottle, it takes an additional 10 seconds.

But how is it more convenient than just buying an easily accessible bottle of water?

If a person is a one-time user, they are contributing to the fight against plastic waste just by eliminating one plastic bottle from our environment. Realistically, it saves time and money. The main reason should be about saving our rapidly deteriorating planet due to our own human disregard.

Since the City of Miami did not fund the initiative to provide the community a safer and more reliable way to drink water, the Woosh Water stations are maintained and monitored by the company. Hence, it is not free, but it is still a fraction of what you would pay for a bottle of water.

“I would only use it if I know it’s cheaper to use than just buying a bottle of water and in the long run is more cost effective than buying a packet of water,” said Kevin Pidgeon, junior cyber security major.

Using your credit card, a regular refill, which constitutes of eight ounces to 20 ounces, costs $0.50. A large refill, which are for bottles of 24 ounces to 32 ounces, costs $0.75. A rinse for any sized bottle is just $0.15. If you compare these prices with the $2 to $10 price range of bottled water in Miami Beach, not only is it a waste of money to buy bottle water, but it’s adding to the overall pollution of our planet.

Miami Beach is currently the only large-scale deployment from Woosh Water providing a broad solution for sustainable water consumption in public spaces. However, they want to expand their service into other locations that generate high quantities of plastic bottle waste.

“Besides Miami Beach, we have a few projects in Dayton, Ohio on a college campus and a hospital,” said Shoenwald. “We are especially interested in areas with high pedestrian traffic like shopping centers, sports/event venues and definitely more college campuses.”

you can reach Francisco Navarro at francisco.navarro@spartans.ut.edu

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