How does the LifeStraw work?
They say it makes contaminated water safe to drink.
This is me drinking water straight out of the Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe.
To be honest, I’ve been scared to make this video.
I’ve been putting it off for a while.
Here I am drinking water out of Lake Baron and Myers, California.
Drinking water from this lake was especially scary because about 10 years ago they closed the lake to swimmers because of dangerous micro organisms in the water.
So yeah, I was concerned I first saw the live stream on social media where people were using it to go camping or to travel abroad so they can drink water safely.
But I wanted to know more about the technology inside this high tech water filter.
So we spoke with Lifestraw Head of Brand Tara Lundy about the development of the Lifestraw technology.
I’m Tara Lundy head of brand at Lifestraw I have a background working for non-profits in global health, and also have a Master’s in public health and an MBA.
And I really wanted to get into working for private companies that do humanitarian work, and that’s where I found Lifestraw.
So I got into water.
So Lifestraw really exists to make water safe to drink for communities around the world.
Whether you’re in a developing country or in the United States with tap water concerns, we make water safe to drink.
This shows you the inside of the original life strap technology and this is our hollow fiber membrane you call it our membrane micro filter.
If you buy a regular life strap today, this is what’s inside of it.
And you can see these very small tiny straws.
So when you drink water, the water comes into the inside of these straws.
They’re tiny microscopic pores of point two micron and every straw and so on.
Bacteria, parasites microplastics dirt turbidity will be trapped within these straws and then safe water will seep through that you’ll be able to drink out of the mouthpiece.
So could stick this in a river, a lake any dirty water source.
And drink straight through and you’ll get clean, clear, safe water coming through the mouthpiece.
So I think the biggest success for the company and really our origin is in guinea worm eradication.
The company, the technology was really created based on an effort to eradicate guinea worm in partnership with The Carter Center.
So actually it was really The Carter Center that came to us and said, can you help us make something to help in our efforts of eradication of guinea worm.
And so we got started by making this simple pipe Filter that we now call the livestock guinea worm filter.
And if successful it will be the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine.
And we’ve donated about 38 million life’s drug guinea worm filters to the Carter Center over the course of About 20 years.
guinea worm is believed to be over 3000 years old.
It’s written about an Egyptian nautical text.
They believe that the symbol of medicine is actually the guinea worm being wrapped around a stick.
It’s referenced in the Bible’s the fiery serpents.
Were, Guinea worm is taken down army because everybody was down anywhere, they couldn’t fight.
Guinea worm is contracted when you drink contaminated water.
The male and female were mate and the male dies off and the female grows.
Upwards to three feet long in your body.
Then when she’s ready to emerge, she excretes like an acid and burns a hole through your skin and now if you can come out anywhere on your body, but typically it comes out through your feet or maybe your legs or something like that.
And over the course of several weeks, sometimes months You’d have to roll a three foot worm out of your body like centimetres by centimetres, it becomes paralysed as a result of having the work left in your body and becoming calcified.
When we started that we have 3.5 million cases in 21 countries in Africa and Asia.
And last year we had 28 cases in four countries.
So we’re in the homestretch.
There’s major challenges before we finish, but President Carter took on the campaign and the Carter centers led the campaign since 1986.
And since they’re about the fight but he wants to seek anywhere and finish before he passes away.
We hope and expect that within a year or two, there will be a normal guinea worm.
[UNKNOWN] If they succeed, within the next few years guinea worm could become the second human disease in history after smallpox to be eradicated from the earth.>>
They were out pushing as hard as we can to finish.
And since we don’t have a vaccine and we don’t have a medication, changing people’s behavior is one aspect.
And one of the Behaviors just getting to people to filter all of their drinking water so that they don’t get guinea worm disease.
So it’s a really, I think, a pretty cool piece of innovation and it went from being something that you know, nomadic guy Somewhere in Mauritania it was just like you know I’m gonna use this, I’m going to put the filter at the bottom of this reed and make a straw out of it.
And to something now that filters out up to X number of diseases, which is amazing.
Once we started working with them, we said okay, is there additional technologies we can layer in to really Address broader issues of water contamination throughout the globe and started with humanitarian so addressing things like bacteria and parasites eventually virus.
Only about 10 years later did we really get into doing retail and providing products for outdoor adventures as well as now even people seeking to improve the quality of tap water in their homes.
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic lifestraw products have seen an increase in demand for use in emergency preparations.
Several of LifeStraw’s products do remove virus, the LifeStraw family, the LifeStraw mission, and the LifeStraw community, a high capacity water purifier.
The original personal LifeStraw as well as the home and go water bottle products remove bacteria and parasites But do not remove virus.
It should be noted that there’s no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is waterborne.
Life straws interesting because we really come from humanitarian roots and so we kind of deploy our hardcore technology first most water filters that you will find in a home are not going to remove bacteria or parasites or microplastics.
So you could literally take our household pitcher and walk to a river or stream and fill it up and it would still give you safe water.
This is our activated carbon and ion exchange filter.
So this is an absorption technology which we combine with The hollow fiber membrane which is the size exclusion technology, so, together, you’re getting very advanced household filtration and the simple picture, but we’ve also layered in other protection for things that are emerging like lead or chromium or PFAS and so there’s really dual technologies are initial hardcore technology that we’ve deployed throughout the world for prevention of things like cholera.
And then additional technologies that now remove things that you’d be worried about in your tap water as well.
But the core technology is really this hollow fiber membrane that works off of size exclusion.
Tastes super good.
So Lifestraw has always been in the business to save and change lives.
We often joke that we’re a humanitarian company with a retail program and not a retail company with a humanitarian program.
One of the things that we do with all of our retail sales is for every product we sell, we provide a school child with safe water for a year.
And we actually implement that program ourselves.
We have a full team of staff in western Kenya, for example, over 40 full time employees that implement these programs in schools.
And as of the end of 2019, will have provided more than three million schoolchildren with a year of safe water.
We operate two r&d tracks and so I see us being able to make additional value propositions in the humanitarian space especially as we see More and more disasters affecting more and more people and so we’ll be creating higher volume products that can address a larger group of population in these types of emergencies.
Being able to make water safe throughout the world is not just in a particular developing country or within the US, but broadly there are issues Water safety everywhere and I love the fact that lifestra has a value proposition for all cases.