Twice as Cool: Keep Your Water Cold for 24 Hours, Provide Clean Water Abroad
Each week TakePart columnist Sara Mohazzebi highlights the founders and stories behind socially conscious product lines that benefit communities in need. From children’s education to women’s empowerment, clean water, and more, we’re curating products that let you purchase everyday items and handcrafted artisan gifts that have an impact on the livelihood, health, and well-being of so many around the world.
The facts are horrifying: 663 million people around the world lack access to clean water. But designer and activist Bryan Papé is committed to addressing this issue through his socially conscious Seattle-based company, MiiR. The brand, not just focused on water, manufactures state-of-the-art water bottles, beer growlers, and bikes, offering a unique twist: Each purchase provides clean water, bike transportation, or an education in global communities in need. And its amazing “impact tracking” program allows you to follow your purchase and see the exact geographic location where it’s being put to use.
In this week’s column, Papé gives us the inside scoop on MiiR’s mission and projects. You can also enter for a chance to win one of its amazing water bottles.
TakePart: MiiR is crushing it globally with its clean water well construction projects. What kind of an impact has MiiR made since it was founded in 2009?
Bryan Papé: We have completed 36 water projects and helped provide clean water to over 50,000 people around the world. MiiR water projects differ by region. Some are deep bore wells or hand-dug shallow wells, and this past year we did a rainwater collection project in Myanmar. There’s also the education aspect: Our water partner One Day’s Wages has strict guidelines for partners on the ground to implement water and sanitation training.
We also require some sort of community coinvestment. This could be monetary contributions to the project, labor, or hospitality for the workers. We have learned that ownership leads to better sustainability. For example, for our first well in Liberia, the community chipped in financially. Previously, the community was pulling water from an open well. It was pretty nasty and unsafe, with green mold all over it, and a dirty rope was used to haul up the water. So you can imagine what fell into the water throughout a given day. To see the community celebrate clean water after the pump was complete was an honor.
TakePart: The 32-oz. Howler debuted earlier this year, and the new Slate Insulated bottle just came out in August. What makes these the best hot and cold beverage containers out there?
Papé: Our Howler and Slate bottles are premium hydration vessels featuring MiiR’s patented design and vacuum insulation technology. The double-wall vacuum insulation keeps drinks cold for over 24 hours and hot for up to 12. Both feature an indestructible powder coat and are leakproof. The Howler has a clamp-style lid that prevents carbonation from leaking like most threaded howlers do.
TakePart: MiiR also designs incredible bikes that provide safe and sustainable transportation for the commute to work and school. How does this initiative work?
Papé: MiiR bicycle projects have helped empower at least 3,000 folks so far, and they differ by region. In East Africa, we work with World Bicycle Relief, providing one specific bicycle—the Buffalo Bike. It is the only bicycle we distribute there because then there is no issue obtaining new replacement parts, since they’re all the same. Students learn about bicycle safety and sign a contract agreeing to use the bike to attend school regularly.
TakePart: I love the impact tracking aspect of MiiR, because people can really see where their purchases are going. Tell us a little more about the process.
Papé: Each product has a unique code on it that can be registered on our website. In six to 12 months, we follow up with our customers and show them the exact project location with GPS coordinates and photos. We do this because we believe in transparency. Giving alone is not enough—one must prove it and be transparent.
TakePart: What is a daily motto that you live by as you build MiiR?
Papé: To “take it further.” It’s that extra effort personally and in business that will set you apart from the pack.