About the Project
The PHLASK Project was conceived as a social enterprise solution to help make an existing system - accessing and drinking water - more ecologically sustainable.
The mission of the project was to reimagine how existing infrastructures and systems could be reorganized and optimized to reduce waste and provide greater access to water, simply by re-engineering the social norms of accessing existing water sources.
Recognizing that the public plumbing infrastructure can much more efficiently distribute water than more energy-intensive, wasteful distribution of single-use plastic bottles, we determined that encouraging users to obtain water from the public water system instead of single-use plastic bottles would have net-positive impacts of reducing waste and reducing energy consumption.
While the Philadelphia Water Department maintains many public drinking fountains throughout the city, they are scarce when compared to the ubiquity of private taps at restaurants, shops, cafes, businesses and even people's homes. While every citizen already has the right to ask the proprietor to share water from their tap, this isn't a culturally normalized behavior. Unspoken norms of patronage and privacy, coupled with policies like "restroom is for customers only," give the impression that private businesses may not be willing to share water, which would discourage even asking in the first place.
We hope that the PHLASK project will help identify businesses that reject such boundaries and would like to normalize water sharing. This project is a conscious effort to create and normalize, what we believe is, a more environmentally sustainable behavior.