George Washington University kicked off its campaign to distribute reusable water bottles to the GW community as part of the university’s ongoing commitment to eliminating single-use plastic on campus.
GW purchased 26,000 reusable water bottles from Didómi, a water bottle company with the mission to combat the water crisis in developing countries and provide high-quality reusable water bottles to encourage individuals to reduce their plastic consumption.
Not only will GW’s purchase of these reusable water bottles reduce plastic use on campus –– this financial investment will reach beyond campus. Didómi partners with the nonprofit organization Water is Life to provide reliable access to water across Africa. According to Didómi, each bottle purchased provides 10 years of water access to a person in Africa. Using the funds from the partnership with GW, Didómi will donate 50% of its profits to fund the nonprofit’s water projects.
On the morning of March 21, two of Didómi’s founders, Lamah Bility and Brian Bishop, came to GW’s campus to distribute water bottles. While telling the mission of their company, Bility shared the personal story of fellow co-founder Anaa Jibicho. Jibicho, a refugee from Ethiopia, lost two siblings to water-borne diseases. When Jibicho lived in Liberia before his family won a lottery to move to the United States, he had to wake up each morning to walk miles to fetch water for his family, Billy said. Jibicho had a realization about the accessibility of water once in the U.S., where clean water conveniently flows from the tap in many places.
While listening to Didómi’s story, students colored and personalized their water bottles. Junior Sarah Teague painted clouds on her new bottle, placing her personalized design around the GW’s plastic campaign logo and Didómi’s logo, the partnership aesthetically represented on the bottle.
Teague says her interest in sustainably centers on GW divesting from fossil fuels. In 2020, after seven years of student organizing on the issue, GW committed to divest from all public and private companies with a focus on fossil fuel extraction by 2025, in alignment with recommendations from the university’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Responsibility Task Force. Yet, there is a need for education around GW's positive changes and events to announce GW’s sustainability-related efforts.
Volunteer Audrey Litto, a junior at GW involved with Take Back the Tap, a student initiative to transition away from using single-use plastic water bottles to reusable, refillable bottles, shared that she hopes people will take advantage of the new water bottle stations popping up on campus and the new high-quality Didómi water bottles.
Senior Jack McMorrow, a volunteer through a service-learning class at GW, has participated in passing out Didómi bottles outside of the COVID test trailers for the past week.
“It felt great to be part of such an important initiative to reduce single-use plastic on campus,” McMorrow said. “I was truly excited to see the enthusiasm of the members of our community who were willing to utilize these water bottles. So many people were excited to approach us and were eager to learn about ways to reduce plastic use.”
Didómi was named after the Greek word meaning “to give.” The logo symbolizes crossed fingers representing hope, or optimism for better days together. Through efforts like this, there is hope for GW as a collective to make a difference to reduce waste and help save the environment.