LifeStraw water filters convert contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water. They are a vital tool for some of the 780 million people who don’t have ready access to safe drinking water, according to Vestergaard, the LifeStraw’s parent company.
The history of LifeStraw goes back to 1994 when the Carter Center – a non-profit organization founded by former USA president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn – approached Vestergaard to develop a filter that could remove Guinea worm larvae from water it was contaminating.
At that time, the Swiss company designed a cloth filter but then evolved it into a more effective pipe form in 1999. Today, more than 37 million LifeStraw Guinea Worm filters have contributed to the near-eradication of the disease (cases reduced from an estimated 3.5 million in 1986 to 22 in 2015, according to Carter Center numbers).
Inspired by the impact of the LifeStraw Guinea Worm filter, Vestergaard worked to develop a product that could filter out virtually all of the microbiological contaminants that make water unsafe to drink.
The result was LifeStraw technology, introduced in 2005 as a personal “straw-like” filter (cover photo). It was designed for people in developing countries who don’t have water piped in from municipal sources or other access to safe water. It can also be used in emergency settings following natural disasters when water is contaminated.
Vestergaard recognized that, while the LifeStraw technology was effective for many uses, innovation around product design was important to meet the needs of different groups of people. In 2008, this technology was adapted for in-home use and the LifeStraw Family water purifier was developed to purify larger volumes of water.
The LifeStraw portfolio has continued to evolve to include the high-volume LifeStraw Community purifier for institutional settings like schools and clinics (introduced in 2013), the LifeStraw Go refillable water bottle (2014) and LifeStraw Mission, a high-volume, collapsible bag ideal for campsites, group hikes and expeditions launched in 2015.
Under the Lifestraw program, launched in 2014, a portion of the proceeds of consumer sales for any LifeStraw product anywhere in the world, goes toward the purchase of LifeStraw Community purifiers which are distributed to schools in developing communities.
“As a result, each consumer purchase provides one school child in a developing community with safe water for an entire school year”, is stated on LifeStraw’s official website.