Feb 27 2014
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This App Will Lead You to Water and Let You Drink

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Much of the country is still facing at least a few more weeks of winter weather, so harbingers of spring are especially welcome. In Washington, D.C., one of those signs is an increase in the number of “TapIt” posters on the city’s metro system letting city dwellers and visitors know where they can get clean drinking water throughout the area for their reusable water bottles. TapIt is a six-year-old national network of cafes, coffee shops and some retail stores that offer free drinking water to anyone who asks and brings their own vessel to fill and drink from. Partners that have helped with costs often include local water utility companies.

"This network protects the environment, as well as people’s wallets," said TapIt Campaign Director Will Schwartz in a recent release. "In fact, users could save up to $700 per year if they were to use TapIt instead of buying a bottle of water each day."

Other reasons to actively look for easy access to water in the community include:

  • A 2012 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that replacing sugary drinks with water resulted in a 2 to 2.5 percent weight loss for study participants during a six month clinical trial.
  • In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a parents advisory urging them to make water the primary form of hydration for kids.
  • A 2013 survey published in the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s journal Preventing Chronic Disease found that low drinking water intake is common and associated with known unhealthful behaviors such as insufficient physical activity and unhealthy eating.

Local TapIt apps, available via the internet or on Android and iPhone smartphone platforms, fix on a user’s location and display a map of nearby outlets that offer water. Users click on map markers for names of locations, addresses and distances. Information includes beverage specifics such as whether the offered water is filtered, chilled, self-serve, or needs to be requested. For example, at the Birchwood Café in Minneapolis, Minn. consumers help themselves to chilled, filtered tap water from the soda dispenser, while at the Village Bean Co. in Des Moines, Iowa, water drinkers must ask wait staff for water and will be offered room-temperature, non-filtered tap water.

National outlets welcoming TapIt users include REI outdoor clothing retail stores and Whole Food supermarkets.

Also, if you don’t have a computer or smartphone at the ready, many of the water partners post TapIt stickers on storefront windows or doors to let people know they’re invited in for a drink.

>>Bonus Link: Read an FAQ on the TapIt program.

Tags: Behavior change, Nutrition, Technology