Taryn Jacob is an entrepreneur with a cause. The young American started Nada Bottle, a small venture that seeks to help tackle the scourge of plastic waste on beaches while also raising money to bring clean water to needy people in developing countries.
She is doing this by giving travelers and outdoorsy people like herself an innovative collapsible container in which they can carry water on their trips so that they won’t have to buy disposable plastic bottles at every watering hole.
Jacob, 29, knows from personal experience how handy such a bottle can be. She had an itch for travel since she was a youngster in Kansas, where she had a large map of Africa on her bedroom wall. She has spent the past year traveling and researching how to put plastic waste to good use by making it reusable.
The idea of the collapsible bottle came to her when she noticed the extraordinary amount of plastic waste on scenic tropical beaches in countries like Malaysia. “I don’t just look at the plastic laying around and think how are we going to get rid of this?” she explains. “I think, Okay how can we use this? Plastic waste is a free resource and we need to be taking advantage of it.”
Her solution: turn one-use water bottles into her Nada Bottle. The product is a reusable water bottle made entirely of recycled plastic retrieved from the sea.
In addition to helping save the environment, her reusable bottle can also save money for travelers. Jacob learned the benefits of traveling on a shoestring on her own sojourns far and wide. Almost everywhere she has been in developing countries, she’s found that access to clean water was a problem and so was plastic waste.
With the help of friends she began working on designs and materials for collapsible water bottles. After some kitchen experiments with an iron and nylon sheets, they came up with a tough, lightweight prototype: a sleek collapsible bottle with a nylon cover to protect the BPA-free plastic liner from damage by the sun. The nylon also works well for screen-printing designs, team mascots and logos.
Focused on the global need for both environmental and social change, the small company Jacob has set up is committed that it will donate a water filter, made entirely of recycled material, to a disadvantaged community for each water bottle it sells. Jacob has big ambitions for her products. Within a few years she hopes her business will be large enough to diversify its containers, offering various designs, sizes and features like water filter attachments. “We’re still in the seed stage, but we’re about to take off,” she says.
The American entrepreneur is also working to reduce the use of one-use water bottles on islands around Southeast Asia. “These destinations are too beautiful,” Jacob says. “We have to make a change; we have to start using some of this waste for good. Before it’s too late.”
She elucidates: “Look at Cape Town, Las Vegas or Mexico City. They are running out of water. I mean, what’s it going to take to make people wake up? The time is now. We’ve got to make a change and quick.”