Can This New Backpack Solve The World’s Water Woes?
Friday, June 15, 2012
You may not have heard of Greif, but you’re probably familiar with its products. One of the largest industrial packaging companies in the world, Greif makes plastic drums, fiber drums, water bottles for water coolers, steel containers, and more. The companies that buy certain Greif products–like the drums that hold hazardous chemicals–are the same ones that may inadvertently poison people in the developing world who use those containers to transport water after they’ve been thrown out. And so it makes a certain kind of sense that Greif would step up to create a solution, dubbed WaterWear, that allows people to safely and easily carry gallons of clean water.
David Fischer, the CEO of Greif, is a late-stage cancer survivor who has worked in the chemical industry. He knows about the dangers of using contaminated products. “These containers used [to transport water] oftentimes have been used with paint, fuels, pesticides. Being from a packaging company, I know those packages with tight-knit enclosures on top are impossible to get clean.” It doesn’t matter how many clean water solutions are brought to the developing world; if the containers used to carry that water are dirty, it’s all for naught.
Greif, a member of the Clinton Global Initiative’s water action group, set out to find a solution that would both keep water clean and ensure that people don’t have to carry water in containers on their head (the traditional style in many places).