Meet the Business # 44 | Water to Go

I know you all tried your best to have a more sustainable lifestyle this year, and for this reason, I have worked with amazing eco-brands. And there are more to come in 2021 too.

This time, we are introducing you to Water to Go, a UK business that sells water filter bottles that eliminate up to 99.9999% of microbiological contaminants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals from any tap or non-saltwater source in the world.

Water filter bottles are a must-have travel gadget and probably the safest tool to drinking water whether your journey takes you to the Gym, Glasgow, or Ghana. Water to Go is seeking to address two of the biggest problems facing the world now; access to safe clean drinking water and the pollution caused by single-use plastics.

It is also the ideal way to stay hydrated on the go and is a great way to reduce plastic consumption. Read our interview now with Water to Go’s Founder and CEO, Dave Shanks.

Midlands Traveller- Tell me a little bit about your background in business.

Dave Shanks: I worked for many years in the garment industry and headed a textiles company that manufactured and distributed clothing brands across the world. I managed a couple of personal projects after that before founding Water-to-Go which I have been running now for 10 years.

 MT- How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?

DS: I made frequent trips to India, Indonesia, and China but it was on one particular business trip visiting a factory in Mauritius that really made an impact on me and probably changed my life. I was absolutely aghast to see ever-growing mountains of plastic waste whenever I visited an industrial area.

As we were looking around this factory in Mauritius, I noticed that the employees had been provided bottled water, but the problem was what the factory did after they finished with them. They took the plastic bottles outside the back of the factory and dumped them in a huge lake full of waste product and dye. I had never seen anything as horrific as this lake before in my life.

When I asked about this, the factory owner just said, “Oh don’t worry, the Earth will take care of it.” I was totally astonished. That is when it dawned on me that the plastic wasn’t the problem, it was what they were doing with it. That one day in Mauritius really changed my life and was the first step to creating Water-to-Go.

I, therefore, sought to create a sustainable and reusable alternative to single-use plastic water bottles. I then developed a filter for the bottle, advancing a technology that was originally developed for NASA, and so Water-to-Go was born.

Realising that there was a technology that could provide clean, healthy water almost anywhere and which could also reduce the environmental damage from single-use plastic bottles were the motivation to establish the Water-to-Go brand and business. 10 years later, Water-to-Go is now a global business, trading in over 50 countries around the world and making a real difference.

MT: Tell me about Water-to-Go’s mission?

DS: Our mission is to continue to grow and become a commercially sustainable business so that we can look to get the product to those who really need it. Every person in the world needs clean contamination-free water to survive.

At Water-to-Go we want to give the World safe clean water that they can afford. Our technology is simple and easy to use and with the correct distribution, we can help counter the impact on some of the World’s most horrific water-borne diseases. Whilst fulfilling this aim, we can help minimise the damage done to the environment from single-use plastic bottles.

MT: What is unique about your business?

DS: In short, Water-to-Go is unique in terms of the effectiveness of our filtration and the price per litre we provide safe, filtered water at.

Water filtration systems are not necessarily that new to many people, but they all work in slightly different ways and incorporate different technologies. Water-to-Go is different because of the technologies in our filter. First of all, it is a filter inside a bottle, meaning it is portable and can be used wherever you are.

Our filters contain three different (1 traditional and 2 nano) technologies to remove up to 99.9999% of all microbiological contaminants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals, heavy metals and microplastics from any non-saltwater source.

This means you can fill a Water-to-Go bottle from any tap or freshwater source in the world such as a river, lake or stream and instantly get access to safe, drinking water. There is no waiting or pump-action needed.

Just fill, filter, and drink! Our filter bottles have been used all over the world to help keep people safely hydrated and single-use plastic-free. We also offer a branding service which has allowed us to work with many leading travel and tourism businesses such as Kuoni, Riviera Travel, Explore and KE Adventure who have provided the bottles to their customers on their trips as part of their responsible tourism policy.

Another interesting aspect of Water-to-Go that some people may not know is that all our products are also certified by the Halal Trust meaning they are also suitable for vegans and vegetarians. In that sense, Water-to-Go is a very universal product which is something we set out to achieve and are proud of.

MT: What is your kind of clientele?

DS: Our clientele over the 10 years we have been trading has been predominantly travel-focussed as the bottles are perfect for filling from any tap in the world, so you can stay safely hydrated and not need to worry about finding water when you are travelling or on holiday.

In addition, a lot of outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers, cyclists, backpackers and preppers use the bottles a lot in the UK when they are out for a trip or staycation for example. But Water-to-Go is a universal product and has been used by people of all ages as it is easy and simple to use. Our filter bottles have also been popular with pregnant mothers and gym-goers as they both want to ensure that they drink the healthiest water possible.

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MT: What are the challenges of a business like yours?

DS: Manufacturing is an expensive business, so it has taken us a long time to develop new products, but we were pleased to finally release our new cycling bottle and new lid last year following our second crowdfunding raise.

It was initially difficult to scale-up the business early on but once we got our first European distributor, it started to grow quicker. We also managed to get business support and expertise onboard along with investors via crowdfunding that allowed us to expand further so we are very grateful for that.

MT: In which ways is your business helping people to be more sustainable?

DS: Just 1 of our 75cl filters, which provides 200 litres of safe drinking water, removes the need to use the equivalent of 400 single-use plastic bottles.

As I mentioned, we work with many leading businesses and organisations whose values and goals align with ours; to help provide safe drinking water and help protect the planet from single-use plastic pollution.

 

We have therefore helped these travel companies and their customers save on tens of thousands of single-use plastic bottles and reduce their carbon footprint which is great. By using Water-to-Go products, you are helping to protect your health, finances and the planet.

Although our bottles are made of plastic; the plastic used is BPA-free and is very durable so the only thing you would need to replace is the filter. The filters themselves are actually recyclable so there is no waste product. Furthermore, our products are Halal certified meaning there are no animal products or by-products used.

MT: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business/project like yours?

 DS: Do your research and know your market, take advice where you can, ensure your product or service is innovative and has been tested or certified by relevant bodies.

MT: What are the next steps to Water-to-Go?

DS: Like many other businesses, Covid-19 has halted some of our plans for the time being but in the long-term, we plan to bring out further products where we may look to experiment with different materials and sizes.

We are also constantly looking to grow and expand where possible through new distributorships and partnerships. In the short-term, we will continue to trade as normal for the next few months until the market starts to open up again.

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Simone Ribeiro
I'm a Brazilian journalist based in West Midlands. In Brazil, I have worked with International Trade and Logistics publications.

Now in the UK, I keep writing and I dedicate myself to a new project : Midlands Trade - a blog focused on business in Europe and Brazil. It's also supporting small businesses throughout the #MeetTheBusiness.

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