The need to eliminate single-use plastic is no secret – but doing so isn’t necessarily simple. While investing in a reusable water bottle has become second nature to many, having a solid, affordable, and entirely recyclable option is something we haven’t seen a lot of, until meeting Path Water. Today we’re hearing from Ali Orabi, Co-Founder & VP of Marketing at Path Water, on his marketing tips for social impact businesses, the strategies that have proved successful for their growth, and their initiatives to not only make a greener future, but inspire the next generation to do the same.
Tell us a bit about your story and how Path Water came to be!
Parked outside of a CVS on Christmas Eve, I was sitting in my truck with Shadi and Amer brainstorming our next chapter. We wanted to change the world, we were ambitious and upset by what was happening to our planet. We wanted to build something that began at the root of the problem, which is when we thought of the beverage industry, bottled water in particular. Sitting in that parking lot we realized that no company had created a safely reusable, 100% recyclable bottle that was durable and affordable. We committed to our idea and rented an office space the next day. Since then PATHWATER and our mission to end single-use plastic have become our life.
Aside from your sustainable, reusable aluminum bottles, you make it a priority to responsibly source the purified water that goes inside them. For anyone not familiar, can you share a bit about why both of these aspects of your water bottles are important for our health?
Our water is locally sourced and reverse osmosis filtered, in an aluminum bottle with a BPA-free liner. This is crucial because even if you are someone who refills your plastic water bottle in an effort to not contribute to plastic pollution, you are still drinking contaminated water. Plastic bottles have microplastics from the heating and cooling of the bottle which you then consume.
Water is a human right. Everyone deserves to have access to clean water, so at PATHWATER our mission is to provide a reusable bottle that can be safely refilled infinitely, and the water comes free. We are a water bottle company that isn’t selling water, but rather a lifestyle.
As the VP of Marketing for Path, what has proved most essential in your work to share Path’s story?
There are a handful of key components that have all played a role, but to me, the most essential has been the PSA program and the “Follow for a Bottle Campaign.” October 2018 we launched the “Follow for a Bottle Campaign” where our Field Marketing teams in Los Angeles and the Bay Area gave out a bottle for every follow on Facebook or Instagram. We raised our social media numbers from 700 to 48,000 in 3 months and connected with our communities to cultivate future partnerships and hands-on knowledge about our consumers.
The PATHWATER Student Ambassador program (PSA) is about educating the next generation and empowering kids to be the change. Students go to our website, sign the petition to ban single-use plastic at their school, and from there they receive an ambassador kit containing a bottle and apparel to use as tools to spread the word. The end goal is to garner enough signatures to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus, as well as encourage more student-led initiatives such as environmental groups and beach clean ups.
We genuinely care and prioritize educating kids on the effects of pollution and hope to inspire them to take on the challenge of creating a greener future.
There’s no question that water bottles are often one of the biggest proponents of single-use plastics. What other single-use plastic items are a large part of the problem that we should prioritize avoiding?
Aside from plastic water bottles, the biggest culprits are the everyday items that are so programmed into our routine we forget that they are single use. These items could be straws, grocery and produce bags, packaging, wrapping, the list goes on. I applaud the restaurants and bars that have replaced plastic straws with alternatives, and companies who package their merchandise with paper or compostable materials… but it is not enough.
We as people need to reprogram our habits to choose sustainability over single use.
You’re very passionate about cleaning up our oceans, which are facing quite a crisis due to the plastics that wind up in the sea. What gives you hope in the face of such a major issue?
We are a company founded in California where the ocean plays a huge roll in our lifestyle. We started locally and created amazing partnerships with like-minded, pro-active corporations and individuals who are as fired up as we are to make a change, and those efforts are growing globally. We are dedicated to building a revolution, and our PSA program is the perfect voice. We read every single application and the responses from these kids and the actions they are taking are the most inspirational messages we could hope to receive in the face of what can seem like an impossible mission.
For anyone looking to share more about their social impact business, what three marketing tips would you give?
At PATHWATER we are constantly faced with challenges on how to grow our company, how to make a profit, how to better market our product, etc. It is important to always come back to the why, not the how. WHY are we doing this? What is our foundation? When it starts to feel inauthentic, that’s when it won’t work.
Think about the long game, not the short game.
It’s okay to give the product away! Our company is cause-based, and we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in product to build relationships, gain exposure, get people excited, and save a lot of plastic from going into the ocean while we do it. Keep the momentum building, and the profits will come.
Build a team that is inspired and dedicated.
It is so much easier to achieve goals when surrounded by people who are excited about what they do. Build a team that works well with each other, who will celebrate wins by charging forward, and look at losses as lessons to be learned, not failures to be discouraged by. Build a team that you trust to always come back to the “why”.
What are your biggest hopes for the future of Path Water?
To keep it simple, our greatest goal is to show the world that there is an alternative solution to a plastic water bottle and see all single-use plastic eliminated from stores around the US and then the world.
What is one simple, sustainable choice we can make today to better the future of our planet?
Choose refill not landfill. Start with using a refillable bottle and challenge yourself to reuse it as many times as you can. Every time you do, remember that is one bottle saved from going into the ocean. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you are helping to save our planet.
Images courtesy of Path Water