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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Amazi Looking to Increase the World's Access to Drinking Water — Without the Bottles

In the weeks leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 4th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will get to know our 11 semi-finalists. Today, meet Amazi.

On a road trip a couple of years ago, Crystal Plew was looking for a place to refill her water bottle and thought, ‘there should be an app for that.’ From there, Amazi was born.

Amazi, which means “water” in Rwanda, is an app developed to help eliminate the need for bottled water, while supporting water initiatives worldwide.

"Amazi is working to eradicate the devastating impact on the environment and our health due to bottled water,” Plew says. “We help locate the thousands of clean water sources to refill your reusable containers to end the plastic pollution epidemic.”

With an extensive marketing and business development background (Amazi is her second startup; she also co-founded Amplofi, an online community for the music industry), Plew is now Amazi’s “Chief Water Officer.”

While still in its infancy (beta testing for the app will begin this summer), the Amazi team is putting in place many pillars for a strong business; Amazi is already established as a B Corp and has the backing of a strong advisory board.

Plew points out that if you walk into a Starbucks, for example, and ask for a glass of water, they will give you a plastic cup, with a plastic lid and a plastic straw, all at no charge. If done enough times, this practice is not only a substantial cost to Starbucks, it also creates a good amount of all-around waste, not to mention the time it takes that the baristas could otherwise be using to expedite drink orders. Clearly, she says, a hydration station at Starbucks could be a win for everyone.

Also, since a whopping 48 percent of bottled water starts out as tap water, according to Amazi, and there is a general lack of knowledge about what is in tap water, the app will also provide data on local tap water quality.

The problem of plastic pollution created by disposable water bottles has been well-documented: Amazi says 66 billion disposable water bottles are consumed each year in the United States alone and only 13 percent of them are recycled. But taking up space isn’t the only issue with these water bottles — a lack of regulation of their production means that many plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals and bacteria.

More and more cities, businesses, universities and other institutions — including Harvard University and the City of San Francisco — have already banned the sale of bottled water (at public events, in the City’s case), meaning the need for an app such as Amazi will only grow in the coming years. Which is good, since Amazi has committed to donating a portion (yet to be determined) of its profits to water initiatives to help make drinking water better around the world.

Initially, Plew says Amazi will generate revenue through paid advertising, couponing on the app and through strategic partnerships. Future expansion ideas include Amazi-branded reusable bottles and hydration stations.

On being an SBIO semi-finalist, Plew says she and the Amazi team are “extremely excited to present our company to some of the most influential brands in the world to work together to help change consumer behavior for the betterment of the environment and our own well-being."

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