I received a lot of fantastic responses to my New Year’s email, including this response from Jen the chiropractor:
“This email rocked!! Speaking your truth, kept me as a subscriber. When I read your email, and your vision—it got me excited, like how can I be a part of this, because health IS important to me, and it is true that filters are not the answer. I am originally from Michigan (an hour from Flint, but it hit home for me). “Without health, you cannot enjoy your wealth” unknown author. Cheers to you, and your visionary approach to blazing a path…”
Thanks for the kind words, Jen. It got me thinking and I realized that while I’ve had a strong vision in my head for a long time, and I’ve shared parts of my vision with you, I’ve never properly articulated my full vision and how we can impact the world. And really, what’s the point of having a vision if I don’t share it? So, I’d like to take a couple minutes to do that now.
I want to start by saying that while I think emergency preparedness is a very important topic and is currently at the core of what I teach, this is not what gets me up in the morning. This is not the driving motivation for what I do, and it’s not even really why I started this business. I have a higher vision.
Because here’s the thing; while an emergency might happen, countless people (maybe you) are being affected by water contamination right now. It’s not if it will happen, water contamination is a problem for most people around the world.
The global water problem is vast. It’s one of the most significant problems affecting the people of the world today. Any effort we can take to fix this problem can dramatically improve the lives of countless people.
Now, let me be clear about what I mean when I say, “the global water problem”, because most people will assume that I’m talking about the poorest countries of the world. And to a large degree this what I’m talking about, but water contamination affects everyone, even those of us in the USA.
People in poor countries have to deal with contamination that immediately impacts their health, while people in developed countries deal with contaminants that affect them slowly over time (such as chemicals that can cause cancer over 20 or 30 years, or lead that affects children’s health). So we can look at the extremely poor people, and the rich (if you live in the USA you are among the top 5% of the richest people in the world), but there are also billions of people in between. Everyone is affected by water contamination, whether they realize it or not.
The evidence is clear; environmental toxins play a big role in many cancers and other diseases affecting people from every income level. In time, people’s awareness will increase, and water purity will be revealed to be a much bigger problem than we currently recognize.
So, let me ask you, in this age of ultra-high tech everything, and a modern lifestyle with conveniences unsurpassed in the world’s history, how can water purity still be one of the most significant problems of the world? Even in the USA, countless people are exposed to high levels of lead and other contaminants every day.
Now, I am not blaming anyone. I applaud all of the efforts of so many people and organizations who have improved water quality for millions of people in poorer parts of the world. Many people have dedicated their lives to this problem, and their commitment has made a huge difference. This being said, we should be further along in fixing this problem.
I believe that there are three reasons for this lack of progress.
FIRST, LACK OF EDUCATION. Let me be clear here, I’m not talking about the lack of education for people in third-world countries, I’m talking about OUR education. The people of the world have a water quality problem because WE in the developed countries are not properly educated. This includes people who should know better. From my experience, 99% of people in developed countries have a SHOCKING lack of knowledge about water. This lack of education means that people don’t really understand the problem, and if you don’t understand the problem you can’t solve the problem.
Have you seen my webinar? I receive a ton of fantastic comments about my webinar because this one-hour class presents people with a crystal-clear understanding about water issues. Most people are amazed that they’ve never heard this information before, but EVERYONE should know it. And here’s the thing, while the main emphasis of the class is to teach people about “water in an emergency”, this same education teaches people about the water problems that most people throughout the world have to deal with every day.
SECOND, THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. Another reason we haven’t made more progress in solving water contamination issues is that an important piece of the puzzle—distillation—is missing from the discussion. Distillation is the only water treatment process that is a single global solution for virtually any water contamination issue. Whether you are dealing with arsenic in Bangladesh, dangerous levels of fluoride in India, mercury in Africa, lead in Mexico or parasites in Indonesia, distillation can solve the problem, forever! No other process can even come close to saying this.
But almost universally people look to filters as a solution. Filters produce variable and temporary results and don’t provide protection against the broad range of contaminants. While hundreds of millions of dollars have been thrown at filtration research and development from big companies like DuPont and 3M, the core problems of filters still exist, and these problems will always exist. Distillation, however, is a fundamentally different technology that CAN solve the problem.
Not only can distillation solve the problem, but it can make people independent. They can be in charge of their own water supply—forever. There is no need for large companies to supply people with a non-stop supply of replacement filters. Simply provide them with a distiller that they can operate on their own, or even better, teach them how to make their own water distiller so they have the skills and understanding they need.
To be clear, I’m not saying that distillation is going to make all other ideas and solutions obsolete, but what I am saying is that distillation is an important piece to the puzzle that is currently missing. And this brings me to my third point…
THIRD, PROPER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. Currently there is little to no money being spent on researching different distillation solutions. There is no question that distillation is the best, most reliable purification process, but it obviously has some weaknesses. The main weakness is the energy required. But this is a problem that can be overcome with proper R&D. Solar is the obvious place to start, but it’s not the whole picture. There are other things that can be done to lower the energy footprint of distillation. A vacuum for example. The boiling point of water is based on both temperature and atmospheric pressure. Pull a complete vacuum for example, and you can boil water at room temperature, and then it will freeze (see video). We wouldn’t want to pull a complete vacuum, but pulling a partial vacuum will reduce the energy required for distillation. There are other processes that can be explored to lower the energy requirements and make distillation a viable solution for poor countries. Combine solar and a partial vacuum and you are starting to get a real solution.
I’m not the only one to preach the virtues of distillation as being the single global solution. Dean Kamen is a fantastic inventor and is a genius at what he does. Among other things, Dean is the guy behind the Segway. For more than 10 years, Dean has been speaking about his “Slingshot” distiller. Supposedly this distiller would treat water so cheaply and efficiently that it could be used in remote parts of the world where there is no electricity.
Now, I would love it if Dean were successful at this project, and if anyone could do it, it would be Dean. But the first moment I saw his invention I knew that it would not work in the real world. He has fallen into the trap that every engineer falls into; complication. He designed his distiller to be a very high-tech, complicated machine that has all of the bells and whistles. I’m sure it worked in the laboratory, but get it out in the real world, and he would be confounded by how absolutely horrible water supplies are, and why his complicated solution won’t work.
Water contamination is highly variable and extremely harsh on equipment. There are tens of thousands of contaminants that can be in water, and each contaminant has different physical characteristics, and these contaminants can be mixed together in infinite combinations. Every single place you go on the planet will have its own unique recipe of contaminants in the water. Sodium chloride (salt), for example, will quickly destroy metals, while calcium and magnesium create scale on equipment. Other contaminants foam, rust, become acidic, or gum things up. Solve one problem and five more pop up.
Most engineers I’ve met scoff at this and say, “No problem. It’s just another puzzle to be solved.” But this is not a small issue. In fact, it’s almost an insurmountable issue; at least if you are going to try complicated, high-tech solutions. The solution, at least for poor parts of the world is simplicity. Simple and rugged. For larger community-based solutions, the solution will need to be simple with maybe a little bit of high tech sprinkled in.
It sounds weird, but it’s harder to design simple solutions than it is to come up with complicated, high-tech solutions. Simplicity requires that you truly understand all aspects of a problem and then distill (forgive the pun) it down to the fundamentals. This is what I’ve been trying to do for decades. No, I don’t have the final solution that we can bring to the poor people of the world yet, but I know it’s possible. I know the direction we have to take.
In 2011, I created a non-profit company (which is now defunct) called Pure Water Revolution. I created a Kickstarter campaign, and made this video. This was in the very early days of Kickstarter. The morning before I went live with the Kickstarter campaign I confidently went on a radio station and declared that I believed we were going to raise one million dollars to fund the research of distillation for Third World countries, because I believed I could get people inspired to see the big picture. I got off the air and when I got home and checked my email, I found out that our campaign had been rejected by Kickstarter, because at that time they were not allowing non-profit organizations on their platform. So I quickly changed gears and launched on Indiegogo, a competitive platform to Kickstarter, but by then I had lost a couple days and we lost momentum. We would not have achieved our goal of one million dollars anyway, because I don’t think the video clearly articulated the vision.
It was back to the drawing board.
I kept developing the product with a very limited budget. I approached investors, and even wealthy friends who often grant large amounts of money to various community projects, such as new public tennis courts in the middle of town, but funding R&D is not something they wanted to do. Maybe it’s too ethereal. I don’t know.
I came up with a new design (my current Survival Still), decided to quit my job, and start my own company and bring it to market. I had recently discovered Tom’s Shoes and Warby Parker. These were “social-good” companies, which means that they are for-profit companies with a higher-purpose, a business structure that really appealed to me. Non-profit companies are great, but I felt the “social-good” business model could allow me to be nimbler and chart my own course.
So I created a new company and launched my new product.
No, the Survival Still is not going to change the world because it’s too high priced and it has not solved the energy-use problem for third-world countries, but it is an excellent tool for people who want to be prepared for an emergency. I have been selling the Survival Still for five years now. Having a small business, especially a manufacturing business is not easy though. And it’s especially hard to keep all the balls in the air when we don’t have a lot of money and this is the primary source of income for my family. But, we’ve done pretty well over the past five years, and during this time I’ve been able to spend some time developing my next-generation products. I must admit though that the development has been much slower than I wanted.
This time last year I talked to an investor who wanted to put money into the company. Discussions took many months, and I eventually discovered that we did not have the same vision. So, while I was excited at the thought of kicking the business into high-gear, I respectfully sent him on his way because he would have ended up hurting my business. While it’s often necessary to make compromises in life, I don’t ever want to ever compromise my values or my dreams.
My goal is to create a successful, sustainable business that can fund our higher purpose, by creating uncompromising products that truly provide people with the cleanest water at all times. I think these products can be fun, beautiful and extremely effective. In my opinion, there is no single company in the water treatment industry that is doing it right, but I intend to.
Our mission is…
“To improve the health of people across the planet by drastically improving the quality of their drinking water, by providing education that empowers people to make a difference, and by inspiring a shift in the way that global water solutions are created.”
I want to thank you for being part of our community and for helping spread the word. For those of you who have purchased the Survival Still, know that your purchase helped us move a little bit closer to our goal. Your support means more than you know.
I want to finish off with a bold statement about the future of me and my company…
I have been working towards this dream for most of my adult life. It has been very rewarding, but we have progressed too slowly. I’ve moved as quickly as I could with the amount of money we are making, but the fact is, going at a snail’s pace doesn’t help anyone. I can’t keep progressing at a slow rate. It’s not fair to my family, nor is it fair to the people I could help.
I’m going to try to make rapid changes with my business this year, and I would appreciate your support. It’s risky, and I don’t know if these moves will work out, but I’m going to give it my all. And by the end of the year (or sooner), we will have made some really fantastic progress or I will be out of business. I’m laying it all on the line.
We will be launching a new brand name soon.
We will be launching a new website soon.
We will have some other exciting announcements soon.
I’m excited about the future. This is why I get up in the morning, and I hope my vision will inspire some of you as well. I believe that we can make a huge difference, and in five years when we’re making a big difference in the world, remember that you were here from the beginning.
If you want to help make this dream a reality you can support us by, 1) purchasing our products, 2) sign up to receive updates (see below) and, 3) by spreading the word about us and our vision. And, if you happen to have an extra million dollars hanging around, we accept checks 😉
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Thank you for your support and encouragement. Please spread the word!