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Making a Difference One Filter at A Time

When companies protect their products with Pregis Inspyre™ packaging, they are helping fight water insecurities in communities across the world. Discover how each purchase not only provides clean water but transforms people, giving them a brighter future.

Pregis is dedicated to minimizing our impact on the environment by developing products that PROTECT against damage, PRESERVE our natural resources, and INSPYRE our people to do good in the world. Our Inspyre pillar pushes Pregis and our employees to make an impact in the communities around us and beyond and it’s that value that lead us to our partnership with Uzima, a non-profit dedicated to providing safe and clean drinking water to those in need.

Over 1,000 children die each day from diseases linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene. Every year, 3,575,000 people die from water-related diseases – equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every hour.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that microbiologically contaminated drinking water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio and is estimated to cause approximately 505,000 diarrhea deaths each year.

“There is no reason for a child to drink dirty water; this is a problem that can be solved,” says Bill Coble. In 2009, he and his wife, Chat, started the non-profit Start with One International, to bring clean water and education to rural Kenya’s most vulnerable communities. In doing so, they witnessed first-hand the anguish of clean water insecurities and knew they had to do something.  

It’s not that there isn’t water available in Kenya, but easy access and protection from bacteria is not readily available to everyone. Drilling new wells is a solution, but it’s expensive. Water purification tablets are cheaper but are single-use and it’s difficult to feed a reliable supply chain.

Which led Bill and Chat to investigate water filters as a possible solution. The problem was that most of the existing systems available were expensive to build and maintain, required electricity and were slow and bulky. All drawbacks that made them impractical for every day use in vulnerable communities.

But that all changed in 2015 when Bill developed an innovative water filter that was easy to use and highly effective in bacteria removal. They named the new filter Uzima, a Swahili word meaning “to be filled and overflowing with life”, an apt name for the life-giving properties of these filters. The best part? Uzima filters are designed to last for up to ten years, helping to transform the lives of entire families for years to come. 

And those ripples extend so much farther than just ensuring a family’s health. It enables them to take advantage of opportunities they aren’t able to when their time is monopolized by traveling long distances on foot to fill buckets of water or when multiple members of a family are suffering from water-borne illnesses. When securing water is no longer at the center of their day, kids can dedicate their time to going to school, adults can spend time at work. The impact can go on for generations.


Inspiring Solutions for Sustainable Clean Water Access

Pregis employee Clint Smith has seen those impacts firsthand and knows that the changes in people’s lives can be subtle on the surface. He started volunteering with Start with One International almost ten years ago and has been traveling to Kenya to support Bill and Chat in their mission. The first thing he noticed after returning to villages that he’d helped to bring Uzima filters to? The children were now wearing shoes. Parents were no longer having to miss work and spend their paychecks on medical bills, they could now afford to send their children to school wearing shoes. A small change that represents a seismic shift in a child’s life and new opportunities for his or her future.


The Importance of Community Advocates

To truly realize those changes in a community, it takes more than just passing out water filters. Uzima works together with locals to train them on how to use and maintain the filters so those trainees can then go on and advocate for clean water practices in their communities among their neighbors. During a recent training session on the banks of a river, Clint and fellow Pregis employee Jack Mahoney watched as villagers were filling five-gallon buckets with drinking water downstream from a shepherd’s livestock using the same river to relieve themselves and yet, minutes later they watched as that same unsanitary water was pulled by gravity through the Uzima filters and suddenly clean and suitable for consumption. “It was a ‘stop-in-your-tracks’ moment for all of us – volunteers and villagers, alike. Everything I’d already known about just how crucial these water filters were was put into a whole new perspective.” It’s training sessions like these that can multiply the effect of water filters by building a community of clean water advocates.


Rising to the Global Occasion

Today, Uzima is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia has two distinct yet inextricably tied business units- the retail side sells a variety of Uzima water filters for camping and wilderness living purposes, the profits of which go on to help fund the non-profit side of the business that distributes Uzima water filters around the globe.

These filters aren’t just life-giving in rural Kenya, they’re lifesaving instruments when natural disasters strike. After Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm in September 2017, 7,500 Uzima water filters were distributed, many to remote areas of the island. From Super Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines and Hong Kong to hurricanes in the Carolinas, the durable, gravity-fed Uzima water filters can be distributed to provide clean water to those in need.  

“If we can solve the problem of dirty water, we can change the world,” said Bill. “My view of what is possible has expanded through the work we’ve been doing. We really can change lives and we can change the world.”

It’s this inspiring action that makes Pregis proud to partner with Bill, Chat and Uzima.  So much so that we created our Pregis Inspyre™ line of products, protective packaging that gives back.

If you would like to donate to the Uzima Clean Water Mission, visit their website. Just $40.00 means you could provide a water filter for up to ten people for years.