The very basic gift of drinkable water, through the LifeStraw
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Monday, December 12, 2011
by Noah Bressman
“Eww, he’s drinking fish water!” exclaimed a young girl at the Chappaqua Farmers Market. And it was true. Using a LifeStraw, we drink water straight out of a fish tank containing a simulated ecosystem with fish, crayfish, and plants. And it’s perfectly safe!
The LifeStraw is a personal, point-of-use water filtration device, created by Vestergaard Frandsen, to provide people in developing nations—or places that have been recently hit with natural disasters—access to safe drinking water. The LifeStraw effectively filters out bacteria, parasites, and viruses without the use of any chemicals. With the slogan, “Profit for a Purpose,” this humanitarian business model shows that it is possible to develop cost-efficient, life-saving products, and still make a profit.
I was first introduced to the LifeStraw in 2006, when I volunteered at a Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) “Students for a Sustainable Future EXPO” at Pace University. Since then, I’ve been trying to dream up creative ways to get the word out about the LifeStraw and global water issues. With the help of Charles Allen, an 8th grader at Seven Bridges Middle School, and Meredith Cranston, a sophomore at Horace Greeley High School, I’ve presented the LifeStraw at numerous schools, workshops, research facilities and events, most recently at the Chappaqua Farmers Market last month.
We raised $78 at the market that Saturday, which CELF matched. A $6.50 donation covers the cost of both delivering the LifeStraw and training its recipient. So with the $156 we were able to supply 24 children in Haiti with clean, clear, and safe drinking water for over a year. Each LifeStraw removes not only the turbidity from their murky water, but also over 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, making it as healthy to drink as our own water. Each straw lasts for at least 1,000 liters of water, and there is a LifeStraw Family version which works by means of a wall-mounted bucket with a gravity-fed spigot, which can filter over 18,000 liters of water, enough to provide a family of five with clean water for over three years.
The LifeStraw and related-water issues are now being taught in high schools and middle schools across the country. In partnership with Vestergaard Frandsen, CELF has created a downloadable curriculum on the LifeStraw, intended for grades 3 through 12, which will be available for free download from CELF’s website in the new year.
In the meantime, CELF has teamed up with with the Rotary Club’s “Water Projects,” which supports the distribution of LifeStraws to those most desperately in need of clean water. In 2011, thanks to generous contributions, and with 100% of the proceeds donated going towards this mission, Rotary partnered with the University of Miami Medical Center’s cholera relief efforts and delivered 50,000 straws to the people of Haiti.
If you would like to purchase a LifeStraw for yourself, which are great for camping, hiking, and emergency preparation, visit vestergaard-frandsen.com/buy-lifestraw/. Explore this site to learn more about Vestergaard Frandsen’s disaster relief efforts around the world.
Noah Bressman is a senior at Horace Greeley HS, who will be attending Cornell University next fall. Noah has presenting the LifeStraw for over 6 years, starting in 2006. In 2008, Charles Allen, an 8th grader from Seven Bridges MS, joined him as a presenter at a CELF Expo, and has been helping Noah ever since. At the Chappaqua Farmers Market, Meredith Cranston, a sophomore at Horace Greeley HS, debuted with LifeStraw, and is now part of the Chappaqua LifeStraw presenting team.