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Kickstarting: A Water Bottle That Tracks Its Own Eco Impact

999Bottles comes with a companion app that provides positive reinforcement by visualizing how much plastic you’ve saved.

Late last year, Artefact shared with us a unique concept for a reusable water bottle. It was nice to look at, to be sure, but the truly innovative twist was it reinforced the virtuous choice to forgo the plastic variety: a built-in dial would allow users to keep track of how many plastic water bottles they were saving from a landfill, and an app would help them visualize their environmental impact. Back then, our question to Artefact’s Fernd van Engelen was: "How much money would you need to bring this concept to reality?" He replied in the form of a Kickstarter campaign, through which he hopes to raise $99,999 to bring his 999Bottles into production.

Per the Seattle-based studio’s press release, van Engelen says:

While most people understand and agree that disposable bottles are expensive and harmful to the environment, many of us still succumb to their convenience. With 999Bottles, our goal is to close the gap between understanding and actual behavior, and to explore ways in which, through design, we might help people see the impact of their choices and motivate them to change their behavior.

With a three-digit dial on its rubberized base, the 999Bottle allows you to count the number of plastic bottles you don’t buy by virtue of carrying your reusable bottle. The companion app will translate your non-consumption into easy-to-understand graphics and messages of positive reinforcement: "You’ve saved 1,063 bottles! That’s equivalent to the height of the Eiffel Tower. Oui, oui!" Using the app to tap into your social network could provide additional encouragement, as you compete against your friends or join forces to measure your group’s collective impact.

The bottle includes a few other thoughtful details: a wide-mouth to facilitate cleaning and a cap that accommodates a lanyard. It’s available on Kickstarter for $29.

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  • Robert

    Agree, buying a stainless steel water bottle will not save the planet but it may, indeed, reinforce the behaviour, make people think and certainly the great design will hopefully draw attention and curiousity,,,, and may become a "status" symbol (heaven forbid).

    My question where is the bottle being made? I have 2 stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottles, now made in China. I also had a stainless steel coffee mug, also made in China (it was an expensive one) and within 6 months it began to corrode. 

  • HankBKLYN

     My bet is that it's going to be manufactured in China...another topic for discussion.

    It seems the behaviour it's really reinforcing is the same old-same old: Make more, Buy more.

    You yourself have 2 reusable steel bottles do you really need another? Artefact should be attempting to change user's behaviour of actually using the stuff that they already have instead of buying another bottle because it's really "cool." What happened to reduce, reuse, recycle?

  • Sheridan Blunt

    yes, it can be argued that this bottle is not going to save planet.  
    What is going to save the planet though is broad behaviour change, and it is this 'engaging' approach that may help more people connect to the impact of their purchases.  Nice work,.

  • Drew

    Self-congratulatory crap. It's like saying driving a Prius is saving the planet. If everyone buys a prius, this bottle, and a toothbrush you can mail back to the factory to "recycle" — Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  • AKreader

    Agreed. Perhaps it's more responsible to reuse what you already own before buying something new. I'd like to see how many "bottles" make up a 999Bottle: Rubber bottom, manufacturing/production, average shipping costs per item...
    To end on a positive note, I do value the initiative to use design as a catalyst for behavior change.

  • HankBKLYN

    Yes, it's a beautifully designed bottle. The dial is a nice touch, with immediate feedback. I've seen a bit of press for this project and initially I thought it was a wonderful idea...but thinking about it more I've become a bit skeptical:
    1) How much "green" capital does it set me back by simply buying the bottle when you factor in manufacturing, shipping, etc.? How many bottles do i need to drink to break even on my initial purchase?

    2) In the spirit of the project, doesn't it make sense to not even produce the bottle? Addition by subtraction. Take away the production of the bottle and you've already lessened your environemental impact.

    The App would suffice  in charting and sharing your non-consumption by using water bottles that you probably already have (or glasses, mugs, cups that you definitely already have). If you don't have a water bottle and you want one there are already plenty of choices out there that are on store shelves now. Do we really need to make yet another reusable water bottle?

    I hate to say it, but the more I think about it seems that the project is a bit of a "environmental" vanity project.

  • Tuckers


    I think your concerns are valid, but the application is going to be free, so even if you don't buy the bottle, a small donation would still benefit everyone who takes advantage of the app.  The app can be used with any bottle, but the 999Bottle has the benefit of helping you keep track in an analog way and providing a constant visible reminder of your impact.

    With regard to addition by subtraction, it seems that the overall benefit of less plastic bottles outweighs the production of a steel bottle, if it raises awareness of the cause and helps change behavior.  If you factor in shipping each full bottle of water, compared with the production and shipping of one empty steel bottle, the break-even point is quite low.

  • Marshall

    I believe you made a slight error in your statement of his Kickstarter goal.  You said it was "$999,999" but he's actually asking for a more palatable "$99,999."