Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

By | March 1, 2010

woman-drinking-waterIn the last 30 years sales of bottled water have grown to more than 1.3 billion litres in the UK and to over 9 billion litres in the US. This is of little comfort the estimated one billion people in the world who don’t have access to safe clean drinking water.

Duncan Goose, founder of Global Ethics and One Water , set-up his new venture, in 2005, to sell ethical bottled water and donate 100% of its profits to installing a specialised water pumping systems called PlayPump . He recognised the potential … “The water market is an absolutely huge market in the UK, worth £1.5 billion” (Guardian, 22/03/2007). At one level Duncan’s vision is simple – use all the profits from selling water, to people who can afford it, to provide clean water for people who cannot. Clearly, there needs to be more to it than that. In his younger days Duncan travelled the world, in fact he was inspired by Ted Simon’s motorcycle journey in the 1970s, detailed in his book Jupiter’s Travels (1979). Duncan is in good company, actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman were also inspired by reading Jupiter’s Travels. As you can image Duncan has his own adventures, including surviving Hurricane Mike that destroyed many communities in Honduras in 1998. Duncan recalled … “What really struck me was to make a difference we did not need a lot of money, just a little money spent in the right way” (Sunday Times, 01/12/2008).

One Water was conceived and launched in 2005 just at the same time as Bob Geldof’s Live 8 appeal was launched. Having created a vision and sharing it with organisers of Live 8, he faced the challenge of promoting and supplying it to individual consumers. Can you imagine how you would go about persuading retailers and supermarkets which have shelves full of numerous brands of bottled water to delist one and put yours it its place? Indeed, it was hard very work for Duncan but when Total became the first national stockist in 2006 others started to follow. In their first year One Water donated £70,000 to charities working in Africa and India. By 2008, this had exceeded £1 million. Then One Difference started expanding its vision to include other humanitarian issues in developing countries, such as HIV through the sale of One Condoms . Interestingly, Duncan has recruited other people to promote his vision, including actors David Tennant and Rebecca Lacey.

About Nigel Lockett

Nigel is a senior academic, experienced manager, entrepreneur and community leader. He has previously worked as a senior lecturer at Brunel University Business School, business development manager at InfoLab21 and relationship manager and lecturer at Lancaster University Management School. Nigel also has more than 20 years' experience as a company director, with a track record in managing start-up, joint venture and social enterprises. He has successfully designed and delivered innovative programmes in entrepreneurship, innovation, strategy, e-business and technology enterprise and was the founding director of an MSc in e-business and innovation.

+ Entrepreneurship
+ Innovation management
+ Universities in open innovation
+ E-business

One thought on “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

  1. Mark Spall

    Hi Nigel,

    Loved this post.

    My name is Mark Spall and I am Head of Digital at Global Ethics.

    I hope it’s ok to mention the One Difference community that we are building on Facebook. We are hoping to get 250,000 fans by World Water Day as we’ve had some donations offered that will enable us to install a Facebook PlayPump when we reach the numbers.

    The fan page is at http://www.onedifference.org/facebook.

    We’d like everyone to join and ideally participate in helping us reach our target.

    The support we’ve had is amazing and, I have to say, just reading peoples comments on the wall is enough to bring a tear to your eye.

    Kind regards,


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