This Bottle Cap Could Save Billions of Gallons of Water

VCU Brandcenter earns Student Isaac Award for Design

With California suffering its worst water shortage in perhaps 1,000 years, VCU Brandcenter students devised a novel plan to curtail waste from standard kitchen and bathroom taps and spread the word about conservation.

"With 'Cap the Tap,' we're proposing a solution that makes it accessible, actionable and achievable to conserve," says Yelena Sophia, who served as an art director on the project and now works at TBWAMedia Arts Lab. "PSAs are inspiring and helpful in keeping conservation top of mind, but offering a solution that allows everyone to participate in water conservation and see the impact of their actions" makes a stronger statement and has an immediate impact on people's lives.

Sophia and her team proposed a specially designed cap for Dasani water bottles and an accompanying social media campaign. Once consumers finished their bottled water, the caps could be attached to taps in homes and businesses. They'd increase water pressure in the faucets and reduce the average flow from 2.2 to 1.5 gallons per minute, cutting water waste by 33 percent.

With the average American household drawing up to 27 gallons of water from faucets each day, that could mean a savings of 9 gallons per day—or 3,285 gallons a year.

The team saw the fusion of public service and personal action on a minimal scale as attractive for consumers.

"Every advertisement you have ever seen asks you to take some sort of action," Sophia says. "Sometimes that message is asking you to buy a product, to change your mind or simply believe in something. We wanted to make sure we not only convinced people to care, but also proposed an easy way to get involved."

From a brand perspective, Dasani—or, indeed, any marketer offering the special bottle caps—would get a healthy PR boost for being a good corporate citizen, with a steady flow of curiosity product sales and sampling as the capper.

Still, Sophia believes smart brands should see the long-term value of the project beyond short-term headlines and ROI, commenting: "It's about doing what's right."

DASANI – Cap the Tap from Yelena Sophia on Vimeo.

This story first appeared in the August 22, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.