By: Timothy Boe, NCARB, AIA

Celebrity is a valuable commodity - one that enriches the lives of those who have it. Star New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees and Internationally famous Portrait Painter Stephen Bennett have decided to spend some of theirs to save lives. Both have announced their support of NIKA Water -- a new company that is donating 100% of its profits to helping impoverished communities around the world. Through their efforts, the dual headed monster of water-borne and sanitation related disease is being confronted, head on. Eco-Times Magazine, in turn, has pledged to promote and chronicle this on-going and vital mission.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3 million people die each year from water and sanitation related diseases. Sadly those numbers pale in comparison to the number of people who have their lives torn from illness related to these same afflictions. For many communities, finding clean drinking water each day occupies much of their daily quest for basic survival. This misery being felt throughout our global community is keeping many from lifting themselves out of the dregs of poverty. This ominous weight represents one more thing holding back the efforts of those dedicated to ending hunger and poverty around the world. The message of NIKA however, is that we can solve this problem in a single generation -- once we decide to do it.

About 20 years ago, in a fit of marketing brilliance, soft drink companies elected to stop fighting the competition brought on by "designer water" by making the product themselves. The consumer public embraced the notion with open arms and thus a 12 Billion dollar per year industry was born. With non-stop ads touting the merits of hyper-hydration, people took no issue with paying more for water than they did for gasoline. The problem, as has now been well documented, is that the impacts caused by processing and shipping the water, along with disposing of the plastic containers, was not much friendlier to the environment than was the gasoline.

Nonetheless the value of consuming clean, quality drinking water has never been disputed. The manufacturing and supply process simply needed to be handled in a more intelligent and environmentally sensitive way. NIKA Water has come up with solutions to address these issues and at the same time has discovered that "helping the world never tasted so good."

The product of a rigorous Life-Cycle assessment, NIKA Water has earned the Carbon Free product certification. This level has been attained through NIKA's carbon neutral manufacturing, distribution and recycling programs. NIKA's innovative bottle buy-back program actually pays to collect and recycle another plastic bottle for each bottle of NIKA Water sold.

How can Bottled Water Save Lives?

Did you know...

* In many countries, 80% of all sickness and disease is caused by unsafe water and lack of sanitation?
* Contaminated water and unclean sanitation kills more people than all forms of violence - including war?
* Water-related diseases are the second biggest killer of children worldwide?
* A child dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease?
* At any given time, half of the developing world's hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-related disease?
* In developing countries, women and girls spend more than 200 Million hours each day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources?
* In rural Africa, the average distance to water is five miles? Girls usually go uneducated because so much of their time is devoted to collecting water.
* Of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water, 90% are children under the age of five?
* According to the UN, 95% of the world's cities dump raw sewage into their water supplies? 80% of their health problems are related to unsafe water.
* In developing countries, the average life expectancy is 30 years less than in developed countries? Half of this difference is due to unsafe water and sanitation systems.

The problem can be solved if...

It is currently estimated that the world could achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation as the result of improvements and educational systems costing an investment of 9 Billion dollars.

To put that proposition in context:

* Each year Europe spends more than 11 Billion on ice cream.
* Europe and the USA spend more than 12 Billion on perfume.
* The United States government is currently spending about 100 times that amount to bail out the troubled banking industry.
* We obviously do not have to make that great a sacrifice to solve this global problem!

A really bright idea!

NIKA Water is not the first company to offer a share of their profit to help others - they are just the first to contribute ALL their profit! Founded by the families of Jeffery Church, David Perez and Mike Stone, there is no doubt that the enterprise is a family affair. Their kids are spearheading the "Agents of Change" program, in which high school and grade school students can earn rewards for selling cases of water in their communities. Unlike other rewards programs, these "Agents" can sponsor entire villages and even have one named after them for their Life Saving efforts.

NIKA currently provides funding for projects by: Free the Children, Millennium Promise and Project Concern International. Each of these organizations is already involved in a substantial number of programs, so that NIKA won't need to waste any time or money on start-up efforts. Every dollar earned can be put straight to work building schools, providing clean sanitation systems, supplying clean water, reducing poverty, and saving lives!

A Sustainable Plan!

Despite the many challenges faced in our society today, there is ample evidence that as a culture we are moving into a higher level of human compassion and awareness. Eco-Times Magazine chronicles these evidences of positive change as we celebrate the vitality of the Ecological Movement.

Each day more people awaken to the fact that this world really is a global community. No longer are national borders considered as barriers to our altruistic desire to relieve the suffering of our brothers and sisters of different cultures.

We may all take heart in the fact that a group of business people from San Diego and their families decided to devote their energy to the creation of NIKA Water. That Internationally famous portrait painter Stephen Bennett chose to donate the rights to his work to bring the bottles to life, as individual works of art. That a professional athlete the stature of Drew Brees would dig deep in his own pocket to build a school in Africa, while also showing up to support NIKA and their goal of building many more.

Everything starts with a vision. The vision of NIKA goes well beyond the idea of selling bottled water. It's a testament to cultural change - the kind of change that improves the quality of live for everyone. It is the essence of what the Green Movement is all about.

For an informative journey into the world of NIKA, its global mission and information on how to become an "Agent for Change," visit their very interesting website at The website itself is a valuable resource and well worth the visit.

About NIKA

NIKA was founded with sole purpose of using the power of water to help bring clean water to those in need. By directing 100% of its profits to alleviate water and sanitation needs is impoverished countries, NIKA hopes to solve the water needs of thousands of families throughout the world. In addition, by enlisting the youth in North America to help us with our mission, we further hope to create awareness and knowledge that act as a catalyst for thousands of youth to get involved in our quest to bring clean water to the impoverished world. To learn more about NIKA water, click here. To learn more about some of the projects NIKA sponsors, click here. is the country's leading nonprofit climate solutions organization, making it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact. supports education, reduction and offset projects, and outreach activities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions globally, create green jobs and investment and reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources. has over 400,000 individual supporters and works with over 1,000 corporate and nonprofit partners including Volkswagen, Motorola, JetBlue, Hyundai and Staples.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen is an incredible artist who travels the world to paint portraits of indigenous peoples. Young, old, joyful, and withered faces populate these vibrant canvases, celebrating a variety of ethnic strains in a tapestry painted with strong brushwork. Stephen's objective is to share his experiences of the diversity of human life. Stephen is founder of Faces of the World, a non-profit corporation in the United States with a mission of increasing cultural pride and affirming the importance of indigenous cultures. Eventually, we envision 12 different labels for 12 different bottles. This way if the consumer ordered a 12 pack they would all be different and if they ordered a case they would repeat twice. We envision consumers wanting the water bottles as pieces of art.

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