Austin startup has big plans by offering free water to everyone

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — FreeWater launched earlier this year and offers eco-friendly water bottles and cartons. The company is able to provide free water because it uses the can and carton as advertising space. The company prints ads directly onto the cans and cartons.

Through each beverage, the company donates 10 cents to an Austin-based nonprofit, Well Aware. The money will go to help build water wells for people who don’t have access to clean water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest data from 2017, that’s about 785 million people around the world.

In a statement, those at Well Aware say, “FreeWater is a fantastic Brand Partner for Well Aware. They are helping make clean water possible for so many in our East African partner communities. On average, every $15 provides one person with lasting clean water through our projects. So, with 10 cents of each FreeWater bottle going towards our mission, that means every 150 bottles will provide one more person with this vital resource — enabling them to survive and thrive. That’s a profound impact. We are honored to work with FreeWater and look forward to partnering to bring clean water to those who need it most.”

Well Aware’s first project with FreeWater, which should be complete by the end of this year, will fix an existing well at a Kenyan school. By the end of the year, those at FreeWater expect to have distributed over 30,000 of these free water bottles. It’s not just free water, the company’s founder said this is just the start.

Josh Cliffords said the company’s goal is to eventually create a free supermarket and provide the community with free groceries, beverages, clothing, medicine, computers, transportation, and travel — all possible through advertising.

“It’s a complete 180° of traditional advertising because our goal isn’t to harass people, but make them happy,” Cliffords said.

Right now, the company is solely working through its marketing efforts and handing it out at popular spots like the Hike and Bike trail, Zilker Park and Barton Springs. Early next year, the company will install three vending machines in Austin that will offer free water.

The water is outsourced from a manufacturer in California and Georgia, but they have plans to eventually create a plant here in Austin and have their own spring water source in the years to come.

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