Corporate America Called to Support Water Conservation Initiatives: Columbus Carries Hope with PackH2O
The facts related to the water crisis are staggering. Yearly, an estimated 3 million people die from exposure to water-borne pathogens; those affected are on average 5 years of age, if not younger. In the United States, 50,000 to 7 million people have become sick from drinking tap water because it holds up to 40% of the bugs, viruses, pathogens, and bacteria that people are exposed to on a daily basis, oftentimes through mere skin contact.
Globally, researchers have found links between the volatile pollutants that are found in water and various forms of birth defects, infertility, and cases of cancer, among other mutations. Despite these ugly truths, the constant need for rapid water distribution, portability aside, remains everlasting.
How can corporate America help?
David Fischer, the CEO of Greif, an industrial packaging company headquartered just north of downtown Columbus, made a trip to Haiti after the earthquake hit in 2011. He witnessed many of the devastating effects that troubled Haitian communities, like the unsanitary practices tied to the production and consumption of water in the area.
As a result, Fischer came up with a safe and simple solution: a water transportation backpack that helps keep water clean as it is carried, called PackH2O. The pack holds up to five gallons of water, helping to hydrate five people a day. With over 100,000 packs manufactured and distributed in the past two years, Greif’s innovative solution to water transportation has already impacted the lives of 500,000 people living in different parts of Africa, Asia, and Central/South America.
A New Albany native, Kelsey Langdale, works as the director of PackH2O, leveraging her previous social media and marketing experiences to raise awareness for the backpack throughout local communities. Langdale finds that more often than not, the general public is either unaware of the many concerns associated with water or unsure of how to help; thus, society continues to over-consume and under-appreciate the finite freshwater resources in our world.
When asked to share her thoughts about the lack of water sustainability practices used in corporate America, Langdale turned the conversation to the importance of education. “Corporate America should start investing in [water] education early on, which is what we’re doing right now. I’m in schools, K-12 and universities, talking about water conservation, the water crisis, and the different ways you can help. If we start inspiring younger kids to believe that we need to treat water like a precious resource, we can change this idea that water is free.”
Along with her board of advisors, Langdale has been actively building local programs that educate people about PackH2O’s water conservation initiatives, while also encouraging their participation. “We have a local initiative that we’ve been doing called Columbus Carries Hope. We provide education in schools, local businesses, and corporations in order to identify a certain community to help. It’s really on a community level; a community can adopt another community’s situation and try to help.”
While Langdale’s efforts have been concentrated in Columbus, expansion is on the horizon. “First it’s Columbus Carries Hope, next it’s Chicago Carries Hope, and then it’ll be Denmark Carries Hope, or Sydney Carries Hope.” However, the success of PackH2O is not possible without others. “What we do is really not about us; it’s about everybody. We’re a piece of the chain and it’s only going to work if all of us are acting together.”
In the wise words of Henry Ford, “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
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