Sidebar: Flavour Infusions
It has been called “an industry based on nothing”, and “marketing’s answer to the emperor’s new clothes”. Billions of gallons of it have been recalled because of contamination over the past decade, and it has been criticised for causing damage to the environment and to our health.
Yet, according to the International Bottled Water Association, individuals in the United States consumed more than eight and a half billion gallons of bottled water last year.
“People ask me what our competition is and I say it’s the plastic bottled water industry,” says Vincent Purino, director of sales and marketing for Aquaovo, a company that designs sustainable water solutions, such as the Ovopur filtration system.
The perception among consumers that brand-name bottled water is purer and safer than tap water has begun to be challenged by the makers of water filtration and ionisation systems.
“We think the bottled water industry giants over the past two decades have invested heavily in branding and positioning bottled water as a healthier and superior option to tap water for status conscious consumers,” says Vincent, “much like the cigarette industry giants who positioned their products as an extension of a particular lifestyle.”
The makers of filtration and ionisation systems are out to prove that healthy, safe and good-tasting water can come straight from your tap and does not have to harm the environment or your wallet.
The systems that purify tap water produce water with a high pH and smaller molecules for cellular hydration. This, they say, is one of the strongest antioxidants on the planet. The health benefits suggested by the bottled water industry can be found in filtered and ionised water.
While no one would want to drink green water, a growing number of people want their water to be green.
Only 28 per cent of the 5.149 billion plastic bottles available for recycling in the US in 2009 were collected, an all-time high in an industry notoriously bad for the environment.
“Consumers now are more conscious than ever about environmental and health issues and, much like the cigarette, the plastic bottle of water will be shunned by many as unhealthy and un-cool,” Vincent says.
“Consumers will be looking for eco-sensitive options and brands that will inspire them to change their habits and thinking.”
Thanks to water filtration systems, which are now available in a variety of colours, sizes and styles, it is easier than ever to get delicious tap water.
Brita and Pur both make pitchers that filter water, as well as filtration systems that can attach directly to your faucet.
A whole house filter by Culligan is an easy and economical way of removing chlorine from piped water.
“By filtering all the water that enters the home, the resident is protected from chlorine not only in water used for drinking, cleaning and laundering, but also water used in bathtubs and showers,” explains Patricia Rice, creative director at AL Thompson’s.
“Our skin absorbs chlorine, which attacks our systems’ probiotics, which is not healthy.”
The filter is economically priced and so simple to install that anyone with basic plumbing knowledge could install it themselves.
The art of filtration
The Ovopur filtration system is a stand-alone water filter and dispenser designed to be both beautiful and functional.
A permanent fixture in the tents of the Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and the homes of celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and John Legend, the Ovopur is a piece of modern art that also happens to filter water.
“Water filters do not have to be ugly objects that you hide in your kitchen or fridge,” Vincent, of Aquaovo, explains.
Designed with minimal use of plastics, the Ovopur incorporates natural materials in a look inspired directly by nature, with a triple-filtration system.
“With all our products what we try to do is imitate what nature does to water,” Vincent says.
“Most filters have one specific filtration media, activated carbon, we have three other filtration media.”
In the Ovopur, water passes through the Aquacristal, which includes layers of KDF 55 powder, microporous bioceramics and Quartz crystal, in addition to activated carbon.
“[The KDF 55] actually traps heavy metals like lead or mercury,” Vincent says. “It’s stuff that you can’t taste but that’s pretty bad for your health.”
Even though every aspect of the Ovopur is designed to serve a specific function, the filter satisfies the eyes as well as the taste buds.
“When we first launched the product, it was not the people who were looking for clean water, it was the interior designers coming to us,” Vincent says.
“Much like Dyson did for vacuum cleaners and Apple did for computers, basically anything that has to do with water we will be at the forefront of creating innovative designs that break barriers and change paradigms.”
Antioxidants in a glass
A newer alternative to bottled water that is fast gaining followers is ionised water.
Ionisation technology was first used in Japanese hospitals because of its preventive health benefits, and the famed longevity of the Japanese is held up by marketers of these systems as proof of their effectiveness.
Ionisation systems use electrolysis to split water molecules into a negative ion and a positive ion.
The ionised water produced for consumption by these machines is alkaline rather than acidic. Natural health proponents argue that when the body is alkaline the immune system is strengthened and the body is better able to fight disease.
By changing the settings on ionisation machines, the pH level of the water produced can be changed to adapt the water for different uses.
Acidic water, advocates say, with a pH of 5.5 can be used as a beauty water, toner, astringent, natural cleansing agent for the skin and conditioner for the hair. It can penetrate the cells, and extract oils and dirt without soaps.
Adjust the pH level higher and the water becomes a natural degreaser, while water set at a lower pH can be used as an antibacterial sanitiser.
In theory then, a water ionisation system could replace many of the products typically found in the bathroom and stored under the kitchen sink.
When it comes to water, choose the system that is good for your health, for your wallet, and for the environment.