How Do You Clean Up Water Bottle Litter? With Water Bottles, Of Course!

This is a guest post by Stephen Vogelpohl, Founder & CEO of†Social Good TV. He frequently writes about social enterprise startups, cause marketing, and trends that make our world better.

Few documentaries have generated enough raw emotion and empathy to influence large groups of people into doing actions that help society or the environment. Sometimes these rare films inspire heightened awareness of social injustices and environmental problems; sometimes they inspire people to simply buy products from a brand they can connect to because it was founded on supporting principals of philanthropy and innovation.

Charles Moore may not know that his award-winning film, Our Synthetic Sea, inspired a group of driven friends in Holland to create a brand in an effort to combat the largest individual contributor of garbage in our oceans — plastic water bottles. After watching the film in 2007, a small group of friendsí lives and the lives of many people in need of clean water around the world would be forever changed.

Dopper is a startup that manufactures stylish reusable BPA-free water bottles with a cup that serves as a detachable lid. The company donates 10 percent of all revenue to its charitable foundation where the money goes to fund clean water projects in Nepal and conservation education campaigns much more broadly. Today, Dopper has sold more than 650,000 of its bottles globally and now has a presence in 3 continents.

As the story of Dopper goes, Merijn Everaarts and a group of friends got together to watch Our Synthetic Sea in 2007. Everyone in the group was so moved that they decided to come up with an idea on how they could help rid our precious oceans of water bottles. The group quickly decided to come up with a reusable water bottle. Not just any bottle would do, however, as the group thought that the design of the bottle was paramount to success of their new-found mission. Consumers had to be able to connect with their bottle in ways that people have never felt such an affinity for a bottle before.

Crowdsourcing was not a formal concept at the time, but the group planned and hosted design competitions where the public could vote on the winning designs. The crowdsourcing campaign itself gained exposure because it was supported and promoted by a well-known flash mob group in Holland. The group orchestrated four separate flash mobs, which were widely covered by local press. Even before the first design was voted on, the company had pre-sold over 50,000 units.

I met Irene Rompa, the co-founder and CEO of Dopper US, during the Sustainable Brands 2013 conference held in San Diego in early June. Irene told me the inspiring story of how Dopper was conceived and even more about the clean water projects the company is involved with in Nepal. The power of Irene and Dopperís story was clear, even at an event where the largest brands in the world convene to share stories of success and opportunity on how to improve the environment and life here on earth.

Next time youíre looking for a good documentary to watch, be sure to keep your mind open. You never know how it might change your life. Donít believe me? Just ask Irene.

Photo Credit: Raval Seojattan


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Anne F.
Anne F4 years ago

Fun to read. This is a solution and these innovators are great!

federico bortoletto


Jenevieve P.
Past Member 4 years ago

There is NO REASON for "Disenfranchisement" concerning global recycling with regards to the plastic water bottle crisis!
How is it that in "SOME states" we are able to recycle aluminum, but we are not able to recycle plastic or glass? Does any one remember back in the day, when we were able to "cash in' on old soda bottles? What happened? Today, as I got off the bus, as I walked home, I picked up probably close to 2 dozen soda cans on the payment in a half block vacinity! People leave theri bottles and cans on bus bencehs instead of putting them in the trash can that is right next to them! They litter their water and soda bottles thinking the ground will recycle it!
There is no reason why city officials can't buy a crushing machine, so the community can recycle plastic, and upon the funds they receive from whatever company they exchange the product for cash,.. the profit funds can be put into a kitty for community functions or fund raisers,.. or SOMETHING that contributes to making a difference instead of just BITCHING about the problem!

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

As Mark R says, mandatory deposit laws help. It might also help to put one of those mini-refinery contraptions that turn all sorts of organic waste material including plastic into something like crude oil moored in one of the ocean garbage patches to strain plastic out of the water and recycle it as something resembling crude oil.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder4 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

Just ditch plastic altogether!

Mark R.
Mark R.4 years ago

In Oregon, we have a $0.05 deposit on all of our water bottles as well as most aluminum cans. This does encourage people to recycle their cans and bottles here. We load them up in bags and tale them to the store where we feed them into bottle return machines. Sometimes it helps when I'm short on money and need gas to go somewhere or I need some money for anything else.. The homeless will also search for bottles and cans to turn in for money. It's not a bad system,

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

Couldn't you have shown us the bottle?

Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you all for sharing your opinion