I drink about a gallon of water a day, so the first 2 things I learn out about most buildings I go in are where the bathrooms are and if there’s a water fountain. I was delighted to find this innovative water fountain in UC Berkeley’s Tang Student Health Center last month. It has an unobtrusive platform for a water bottle in the back; when a bottle is placed on it the sensor is triggered and water flows until the bottle is removed. It’s easy to figure out, fun to use, and even has a counter in the upper right which tracks the number of bottles it’s filled, reinforcing the idea that we’re contributing to a greater good while staying hydrated. Having carried around my own water bottle for years, I can usually manage to fill it at a spigot intended for a human mouth but it’s less than ideal. This solution not only solves that problem but is an open invitation for others to get in on the fun too.
There is considerable evidence that even the smallest of reminders to recycle, reduce or or reuse can inspire people to take the extra bit of effort necessary to do the right thing, but my own experience is that many of the messages we get are redundant and trite. This fountain reminds me how much potential there is for fresh, playful and smart innovations that can inspire people to adopt better sustainability practices. No doubt there are plenty in the pipeline which just haven’t found commercial success yet, so kudos to the Tang Health Center for being an early adapter.