Gretha Oost has the heart of an environmentalist and the mind of a marketer.
The two traits merged as she pondered Australians’ propensity to drink water from bottles when, by and large, water from their taps are perfectly safe. She determined that what the problem needed was some style.
The product that emerged from that brainstorm — 321 Water — proved to have more than enough buoyancy to bob atop this year’s SMART 100 list.
1. 321 Water
Company: 321 Water
Headquarters: Central VIC
Oost came to Australia from The Netherlands in 2004, bringing with her a passion for environmental protection and a knack for marketing her own ideas. She settled in Melbourne and launched halfateaspoon.com to showcase her products and vision.
After reading “Troubled Waters,” a collection of essays on water politics by the late founder of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick, Oost found herself inspired to wean Australia off bottled water.
321 Water filters tap water in much the same way an espresso machine makes coffee. A person fills the cylindrical container, inserts a plunger and pushes down until it reaches the bottom of the container. He or she can drink the now-filtered water immediately or cap it and use it later. The container holds just under 500 millilitres.
(The product’s name refers to the three litres of water required to make one litre of bottled water.)
And the use of bottled water is a big environmental issue. About 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink containers are manufactured in Australia each year. Only 35 percent of those containers are recycled; the rest tumble into landfills. And the demand for bottled water in Australia is rising 10 percent per year.
321 Water is created from recycled materials, and is free of the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA), which leaks out of plastic in many reusable water bottles and is a known contaminant.
It is available at its website and, Oost says, at “a number of forward-thinking design establishments in most capital cities.” She plans to market the product with an “I Drink Tap Water” campaign on the Net and social media. She is competing with numerous types of bottle that are quite reusable and “very practical-looking.” None, she says, has the visual style of 321 Water.