A group of hotels, resorts and hospitality companies including Virgin and Ritz-Carlton plan to cut their use of plastic bottles by filtering, bottling and selling their own water.
10% of the proceeds will be donated to the new WHOLE WORLD Water campaign, which is dedicated to bringing clean drinking water to the estimated one billion people who don't have it. The fund will be managed by ClimateCare.
"The WHOLE WORLD Water model is designed to combat environmental, health, and economic issues, as it delivers radical change and drives a more robust bottom-line across the industry," says Karena Albers, co-founder of WHOLE WORLD. "We estimate that with scale, the hospitality and tourism industry can contribute $1 billion per year or more to help eradicate this global issue."
The effort officially kicks off on World Water Day, March 22. It springs from a model Soneva Resorts has been using since 2008 at properties in places like the Maldives and Thailand.
Those efforts have improved clean water access for more than 600,000 people, says Sonu Shivdasani, Soneva's founder and founding member of WHOLE WORLD Water.
"Our resorts have proved that this solution works. We are proud to have inspired this global campaign and been able to provide initial seed capital through The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust to launch this exciting initiative,” says Shivdasani.
Brands that have signed on so far include Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Hotels, Banyan Tree, Auberge du Soleil, Tao Restaurant Group, The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Dusit Hotels and Resorts, JetWing Hotels, and The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu.
The annual membership fee is $1,000 per property, plus members need to install a water filtration and bottling system.
Virgin plans to eliminate more than 200,000 plastic bottles a year at its Necker Island resort, says founder Richard Branson.
He writes in his blog: "This is actually a perfect environmental scheme because it makes a contribution to protecting the environment; saving shipping costs, sea pollution, financial and environmental costs; and it offers a convenient way for guests to make it possible for more people globally to access to clean and safe drinking water."
It will also help hospitality companies boost their bottom line by 25%.
Bottled water is being eliminated in other ways too. More than 90 universities such as Brown, Cornell, Harvard and Princeton, have restricted or banned sales of water bottles on campus, and Concord, Massachusetts is the first city to do so.
Read more about the Whole World Water campaign: