By Caroline Descorbo
Having access to clean drinking water is essential to sustaining human life. According to the Center for Disease Control, 780 million people do not have access to “improved,” or sanitary, sources of water. According to the World Bank, 88 percent of diseases contracted in developing nations can be attributed to unsafe drinking water and inadequate hygiene practices. Some private companies are trying to make a difference by using new technology to reduce waste and increase access to drinkable water.
While many developing nations suffer from a lack of safe access to drinking water, developed nations are concerned over the dwindling supply of water. In their paper, Georg Meran, economic professor at the Technische Universität in Berlin and Christian von Hirschhausen, professor of economics at the German Institute for Economic Research, state that even though progress has been made over the past decade, the amount of people in the world who have access to safe water is scarce. Wasting resources such as drinkable water is detrimental to not only the environment, but humanity as well. Many countries aimed at mitigating water have implemented or are considering implementing water tariffs. However, they found that water tariffs may negatively impact economic growth and argue that it would especially hinder poorer households from accessing water supplies.
When water is extracted from most resources, it must go through a filtration process which is often complex. Groundwater also runs the risk of containing pollution and may be too contaminated to filter. However, when sap is collected from Vermont maple trees and the sugar is extracted, naturally pure drinking water remains. In other words, no further purification is necessary.
Adam Lazar, founder and CEO of Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water, found a way to put the leftover water to good use. On his Kickstarter campaign, he states that, “We discovered that 500,000,000 gallons of naturally, pure tree-filtered water, the byproduct of maple syrup production, is lost every year through current maple production processes.” The 39-year-old entrepreneur designed Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water as a way to prevent this valuable resource from going to waste. The company has partnered with two big cider and maple companies in New York, for help with putting its inventiveness into action.
After the company extracts the water, it is put into eye-catching, eco-friendly glass bottles. A four pack can be purchased for $5.89 on LuckyVitamin.com, or in grocery stores throughout the United States, primarily in the northeastern region.
While the price of the product may appear daunting to many, the technological innovation brought forth by Lazar may be able to revolutionize the water industry. It is often the case that goods that initially hit the market are too expensive for the average consumer to afford. As market demand and mass production increases, however, the prices of goods decrease significantly and such products quickly become consumer staples. A good example of this phenomenon is the advent of the modern cell phone. When the cell phone first came to market, it was priced at a whopping $4000 with a battery life of 30 minutes. Now, according to the United Nations, 6 billion people have access to mobile phones worldwide.
As a privately owned company, Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water is in control of its own processes and funds. When environmental goals are in the hands of the government, according to Richard Stroup and Jane Shaw, senior fellow emeriti at the Property and Environmental Research Center, “they are subject to a process that is often driven by groundless accusations, supported by public fear, and legislated with special interest in mind. Populist sentiment and pork-barrel politics, rather than actual environmental dangers, currently determine priorities.” Although Lazar is striving to make a name for himself and this company, he has the environment’s best interest in mind.
According to economics researcher Josephine Fogden, unclean water can be a cause of disease, and even lead to death. If Lazar’s company continues with its successful journey, a new and efficient water resource will be available to many. The technology that emerges from the private sector by creative entrepreneurs such as Adam Lazar is crucial to promoting environmental sustainability and reducing global consumption of scarce resources like water.