Saving the World one Water bottle at a time…

After writing my earlier blog post about Be My Eyes and the amazing work they are doing for the visually impaired, I set a challenge for myself. I was determined to find other companies that are using technology to do good in the World. I didn’t have to search long, in fact I just needed to check my inbox. A recent BC Update highlighted BC Dining, and there it was. The Fill it Forward app. Boston College has joined the Fill It Forward Community. 

Fill it Forward’s Mission is to Inspire the world to reuse. In their own words “ We create interactive technologies, global giving initiatives and reusable products that inspire the world to reuse.” Can technology save the world?… Maybe

Fill it, Scan it, Give it.  Whether you purchase a Fill It Forward reusable product like a water bottle with the very catchy name of Cupanion Bottle or bag or you already have these products and you purchase a Reuse tracker you can participate in Fill it Forward’s mission.  

So what happens when you scan your tracker with the app? Every time you scan your Reuse Tracker on the Fill It Forward app, Fill It Forward contributes to charitable projects around the world. Additionally, With the Fill it Forward app, you can track waste diverted, emissions saved, and how much ocean pollution you have prevented. Furthermore, you can track your beverage consumption for the day and set reminders to hydrate. Additionally, you can join communities and track your collective impact and earn badges when you hit different milestones.

So, I know you are wondering did she actually sign up to Fill It Forward? Well the answer is yes. I already have a reusable water bottle so I purchased a sticker for $4.95.  My first thought after purchasing the tracker was, isn’t it kind of silly to purchase something that is going to have to be shipped via the mail? That can’t be so great for the environment… I then wonder what will Fill It Forward do with my drinking habits data? Does anyone actually care how many times I fill up my water bottle? I settled on NO! 

Tracker that I have on my re-useable water bottle!

I just received the tracker in the mail and placed it on my waterbottle and after remembering my Apple password, I downloaded the corresponding app. I even allowed the app to send me notifications, something I don’t normally do, because I do believe that this is an important piece of the puzzle. 

I am curious if this will truly change my behavior.

Will I forget my reusable water bottle at home less now that I am a Fill it Forward user? Will I remember to scan the tracker each time I fill my water bottle up? I am not sure!  Technology can certainly change our behaviors. For example, who here wakes up and immediately checks their phone? But will I be willing to take these extra steps? I guess time will tell. 

In fact, Fill it Forward hopes to enhance its technology. “Our new reminder function will have an immediate impact as customers can easily set time or geo-based reminders so that they never forget their reusable bags again. We’re really excited about the geo-based reminder feature, which pings shoppers with a notification as they arrive at their favorite retailers.” Founder and CEO Matt Wittek. Now we are talking about the creepy/cool tech stuff. Well one may appreciate the reminder, do they really want to be tracked every time they go to Target?  I am sure businesses will want access to this information too. In fact, businesses can get involved and reward customers and employees who get involved in programs and competitions. Not surprising some pretty tech savvy companies have already Filled it Forward like Twitter and Salesforce

Apparently some smart people and large companies like Walmart, Target and CVS Health thought Fill It Forward was a good idea as the company was one of nine winners of the Beyond The Bag Challenge. “Launched by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, this initiative aims to reinvent the single-use plastic retail bag, with the goal of identifying, testing and implementing viable design solutions and models that more sustainably serve the purpose of the current retail bag.”

I want to know what you think. Have you ever heard of Fill It Forward? It’s okay, I don’t expect too many people to read the daily BC Updates… Now that you have, would you Fill It Forward? Perhaps this might help encourage you:

From the most recent Fill It Forward Impact Report – 2020

  • Over 150 clean water projects have been funded.
  • 4,930,820+ Single-Use Items Diverted
  • 18,125.34 lbs Plastic Saved – This metric calculates how much plastic pollution we have prevented from entering the world’s oceans.
  • 2,359,964.92 kWh Power Save- This metric determines the power consumed each time a single-use cup or bottle is created.
  • 186,180.68 lbs Waste Save- This metric measures how much single-use waste you’re diverting from the landfill.
  • 2,081,251.85 lbs Emissions Saved- This metric captures the amount of emissions released each time a single-use item is produced.
  • 14,211,653.45 sq ft Land Used- This metric measures the land used (logging, manufacturing, and distributing) to make one single-use cup.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkart/2021/03/14/next-for-fill-it-forward-never-forget-your-reusable-bag-again/?sh=8cb38e97a734

8 comments

  1. @allietlevine great blog, I had to tune into it after your last one on Be My Eyes. One line really stood out to me here: “does anyone really care about how many times i fill up my water bottle?”… I was part of a group in Prof Subramaniam’s Digital Strategy class, and our project idea was a dunkin donuts reusable mug equipped with sensors to better understand their customer’s drinking habits, because they could use it to do things like better personalize offers. I actually think Fill It Forward’s QR code approach is a fascinating low-cost way of gathering some consumer data. Although maybe not the primary mission of their sticker, I wonder if a revenue stream for them could be selling that data to CPG companies. Food for thoought?
    P.S. Love the mission of looking for companies doing well by doing good!

  2. Be it this is a business class, there’s certainly a market out there for this company and their mission. Do I think user’s will continue scanning and supporting the tree hugger movement after a few months, no, but only time will tell. I’ve seen the water filling stations appear all over stadiums, campuses, gyms, and even in some offices in recent years, and it always shows how many gallons of water we saved from preventing a running tap wasting water long after use. The tax on plastic bags worked only for so long, but people would forget their bags and just pay an additional 10 cent fee. These movements start a conversation and allow participants to partake in these environmentally friendly initiatives, but after a while, we return to our normal behaviors. A finance term to compare to this behavior is mean reversion, just to sound business-y.;) Really good to see companies with a strong mission and robust initiatives to keep everyone engaged and truly make the world a better place.

  3. Really great post. I’m glad you didn’t have to look hard to find a tech company doing good. These types of tracking processes can change behaviors because they are 1) quantified and 2) incentivized.

  4. I had a tough time on that survey just because I’m a maybe but not just because I’m trying to read my three blogs! I think the sticker is an awesome idea and something that users can really take pride in. While reading this I searched on Instagram for the company to share with friends and was surprised to see they only have 3,800 followers. There’s a ton of room for improvement on their page as they do include a link, but do very little explaining and the link to the store is pretty hard to find. I can see these stickers really catching on as so many people have reusable water bottles and would be proud to support such a cool cause.

    As you mentioned, I would be somewhat hesitant to download the app just because of the tracking aspect and the fact that I don’t want some specific app for this single use. I think this idea may be more effective if a QR code could be scanned instead. That way other people could scan each other’s water bottles and be directed to causes that the user wants to highlight. I think it would make it a bit more interactive and channel network effects.

  5. This could be a really great opportunity for sustainability-focused groups on campus to collaborate with this company. There are very few college students without a Hydroflask, Yeti, or Nalgene bottle on them at all times, and BC has finally turned the water fountain filling stations back on (at least the ones I am familiar with). Given the community building aspect and the potentially competitive nature of it, this could translate into a student org partnership quite easily.

  6. Allie, I love that you got inspired to change the world thanks to a classmate’s blog. Schools like BC need to prove that initiatives like this one work. I cant wait to see how your experiment is going. You have to keep us updated with your progress. By the way, I love your survey, and I might give this a try!

  7. I would definitely download an app and participate in this movement. I hope that they either provide QR code stickers or something of the like and do not make people buy special water bottles. And then on the movement to never forget my reusable bags again…yes please! I hate going to Wegmann’s or Whole Foods and forgetting my bags. Great post…and like Prof Kane said, great to see tech companies jumping on these movements. I feel like tech companies are more aligned with the green movement even though servers and computing power require a lot of energy. Great post!

  8. Hi Allie – first of all, I love your integration of a poll. This is a great topic to look into each week. Your question – will I forget my fill it forward cup less often made me think of the water bottle fillers around campus. While I think that these help me remember bottles more often, it is much more annoying when I do forget them because I am no longer able to just drink from the fountain. This is a concept we talk a lot about in class. Advancement in technology has the ability to alienate some established user groups

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