How safe is your water? Sarah Evans, founder of Well Aware and Well Beyond, teaches us the importance of clean and accessible water

Dec 15, 2021

You may be surprised to learn what’s really behind 80% of the water problems in the US. In this episode, we dig into the the world’s profound water crisis with Sara Evans, founder of Well Aware, an Austin-based nonprofit that implements clean water systems for impoverished communities in East Africa.

Show Notes:

Check out Well Aware – https://wellawareworld.org/

CORRECTION – Sarah mentions waterfootprint.com for making smarter consumer choices around water, but it should be waterfootprint.org

Check out how clean your tap water is – https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/

We use the Water Drop water filter for our house. It’s a 3-stage filter addressing most contaminants found in tap water and it alerts you when the filters are spent! Use our link to get 10% off any purchase – https://www.waterdropfilter.com/?ref=5zpx3nt2ui


Pretty ok transcript:

[00:00:00] Mason: We’re here today with Sarah Evans who is a very worldly human. Is there any continent that you haven’t spent time on? Antarctica. All right. She’s a decorated nonprofit leader with what looks like several bookshelves full of awards. Member of the Forbes non-profit council among other boards and bad-ass Surrey.

She’s currently founder and CEO of well beyond a software and consulting company increasing last mile project efficacy globally, also founder and chair of the successful Austin-based international NGO. Well-aware that funds and implements clean water systems for impoverished communities in.

[00:00:41] Sarah: I sounded great.

Did you get that somewhere or did you write that?

[00:00:47] Mason: We wrote it. Oh, it’s guilt it from things we found really good. Send it to you for your short bio. Yes, please.

[00:00:53] Jess: Okay. So going way back, we also read that you spent your first five years in Australia. Is that

[00:00:59] Sarah: correct? I did. I was born there. Didn’t move to the states until I was five.


[00:01:03] Jess: Do you remember anything from Australia? I know zero to five. There’s not many memories there, but maybe since a different, it was a different

[00:01:09] Sarah: country. I think I do. And probably I’m confusing memories with stories I’ve been told over and over again. Right. But, uh, it so dramatically different my life there than the life I landed in when we moved to the states.

I do think I remember a lot of how we did live because we have no running water or electricity. We were off the grid. Wow. Parents are hippies an outhouse, you know? And so I, I do vividly remember when I was first introduced. The flush toilet and things like that. And that

[00:01:39] Jess: was in east Texas. That’s where you moved when you came to the

[00:01:42] Sarah: states?

Yes. Very, a big culture shock, right? I think got me in, in Australia to, uh, DPS, Texas. Uh, but my dad’s parents had retired there and so. Brought over to be closer to family. W when I left east Texas to go to undergrad, I felt like, oh, okay. You know, these, these are probably more of my people, but I still have such a good friends, friends like family from back there.

And your undergrad. Was that in Austin? Yeah.

[00:02:10] Jess: UT Austin. And then from there. So you got your undergraduate at UT and then went to law school at SMU. That’s

[00:02:16] Sarah: right. Y’all are good. Well, this was, you know, the movie, Erin Brockovich, Chino, the age of Erin Brockovich popular. Yeah. Yes. Um, but I also really, I wanted to, I wanted to a law degree because I wanted to be able to get stuff done.

I thought that was the way to do that. And so immediately I started focusing on environmental law. I was taking all the environmental law classes and you know, all of that. Clubs and things and clerked for the EPA region five in clean water, coincidentally. But what happened was, uh, uh, working, uh, in clerking within this field, I became really disenchanted with how things were actually not getting done via that avenue, uh, for the, for the environment.

[00:03:02] Mason: Parallels because I was going to go into environmental law and I don’t know if we should compare Elsa at scores. So we’ll do that later after this.

[00:03:12] Sarah: Uh, yeah, no, we can do, we can compare all sat scores. Um,

[00:03:17] Mason: I was so intent on it and my parents said talk to a couple of environmental lawyers before you decide.

And so I interviewed two environmental lawyers and said, fuck that. Yeah. It seemed like, I mean, they were just miserable and you know, I’m glad there are people fighting the good fight in that field. And I just think it could be really hard. Field wanting to get anything done and then to, to live a

[00:03:45] Sarah: happy life.

Yeah, unfortunately I think so too, at least the way things are now and it, when, when I was working with the EPA, w we were just, we were so busy defending lawsuits. So, you know, the EPA barely had a chance to actually, you know, take action against other people. Cause they were just defending themselves against lawsuits for cleanup orders and Superfund stuff.

And it was just, it was a

[00:04:07] Mason: bummer. Amazingly appreciative for the people who have the kind of constitution to go out and fight that fight because it is how industry wins and how they’re able to pollute and, you know, indiscriminately and earn a lot of money off of it. But it wasn’t for me. And so I, uh, went into commerce.

You kind of went NGO route. I very much went. Commerce and said a million wallets voting on a particular thing can, can make some change as well,

[00:04:35] Sarah: possibly more. Yeah. And, but it is all needed. I didn’t go straight from an environmental passion to NGO. I had a stint in a securities law and then lobbying fully sold my soul and then had to get it back.

Yeah, it paid well.

[00:04:56] Mason: So as a lawyer, you went into securities law.

[00:04:59] Sarah: That was my first job out of law school. I was, I was hired, I don’t know why, honestly. And it was really. And a really, really long hours. And also we’ll listen, chanting

[00:05:12] Mason: that as well. And so how did you then go from that to up, yeah,

[00:05:17] Sarah: a really round about way with lots of twists and turns.

So I did work in Dallas for a little while after law school at that firm moved back to Austin and worked in another law firm, but focusing on lobbying. And then I met a friend who really wanted to raise some funds to replace some livestock that were dying in her father’s village. Remote area of Kenya.

And I said, yeah, sure. Let’s, let’s do this. I’ll help you do that. And, um, we got, uh, really involved and I started researching and I thought, well, okay, well, I, I didn’t know about all of this. I didn’t, I’ve heard, I’d heard the term global water crisis, but I wasn’t really familiar with the nuances and the depth of what was happening globally.

So I educated myself and I realized, well, these livestock are dying because they’re, they’re not drinking water. It was a really bad drought in east Africa at the time. Nonetheless, there just wasn’t the water supply there for them. So I convinced the small group of us that we should instead raise the money to drill the water ball.

No idea what you’re doing really, really reckless and irresponsible, but instead

[00:06:20] Mason: of cattle drilling, well that’s right. Yeah, why not? I would very much argue that water is more important than it

[00:06:28] Sarah: is. Well, it’s like, it’s the root cause of the problem we were trying to solve and realize it was the root cause of all these other issues.

And they were all intertwined and all related to each. So I thought, well, why don’t we just tackle the root cause why don’t we just get it that, and we got really lucky on that first project. I’ll be honest. But then during that first project and, and meeting the community members and, and meeting people who would be my future colleagues, it just, it changed my, my soul and my direction.

Like then, so here we are.

[00:06:59] Jess: And so how long did it take you guys to trail that first? Well or TRO for water and create a while?

[00:07:05] Sarah: Well, so it was in, this is the only, the, the types of water systems that well aware is doing in these regions are. Deep we’re holes that are cased in steel that lasts a really long time with pumps that go into the borehole that are solar powered, because those are the most sustainable knew enough to know that that was the type of system that we should use type before whole we should do.

And so the actual drilling process, her whole that deepen and you case it and new equipment, the drilling process is about two to three days. Unless something goes wrong with something usually goes wrong and then a couple days for casing. And then, then you have. Take water quality analysis and, and figure out the drought from the aquifers.

So you’re not going to pull too hard on the aquifer to deplete those resources for other people in the surrounding areas. It was really important in our work. And then from a to Z, it can take a month or two from the time that you start that drill to the time that there’s a fully functioning, you know, water system with pipelines at the kiosk and people are accessing it.

It actually sounds like

[00:08:07] Jess: a pretty quick turn around.

[00:08:09] Sarah: Yeah, again, if nothing goes wrong, but we’ve been on drill sites before for like three days, three full days, and nothing is happening because a compressor broke down and we’re in the middle of nowhere and they’ve got to drive this very slow truck back to Nairobi and get the equipment and drive very slowly back.

And so we have a lot of downtime in the field. I like that though. And so

[00:08:29] Jess: you guys have a 100% success. Yeah, with your Wells. And that’s amazing. What we’ve read is that typically there’s only a 60% success rate. Can you talk to us about what the differences and why do some, or why do you most fail and how have you guys been so

[00:08:44] Sarah: successful?

I love that question. The failure rate is so big and I think with water Wells specifically in Africa, it’s only about 45% success rate, that specific type of stuff. On that continent. I wondered that in the beginning, because after we did the first, well, I didn’t yet realize the, the depth of this, what people in the sector call a hidden crisis that we were driving around and we’re looking at other locations and meeting people and their shoes, broken water Wells.

Hmm. I think the Kenya, those, these rural, rural parts of Kenya littered with broken hand pumps and filters. And so I’ve got very, very interested in why that was happening because I D I decided I didn’t want to spend my life doing this work. But I didn’t want to do it that way. And so

[00:09:32] Jess: you want your work to turn into what you were witnessing in other

[00:09:35] Sarah: places that’s right now, we’re going to let that happen or I wasn’t going to do it.

So, uh, we studied, uh, we studied Y and I pretty soon after there that time I did start to build, uh, what we call our technical team. And these are hydro-geology. Um, and engineers and groundwater engineers and with their technical expertise. And then I made friends in country and sort of better understanding from the communities, what, what was going wrong.

And we realized, and then we collected a bunch of actual data and we realized that the number one reason for, for these water systems. Failures. And this was just in Kenya. Our study was a lack of technical expertise, either in the drilling process or equipping so many were holes are just, uh, they’re, they’re drilled the wrong place.

They’re not drill deep enough that the casing is not designed properly. Casey doesn’t go down far enough. The pump is miss size. The pump is hung in the wrong spot that can burn out a pump and kill the well in a day. You know? So just all of these different. Pieces of the puzzle that do require expertise.

We’re in a field where a lot of expertise largely is not being used, but a close second reason for this water system, a failure issue was a lack of real community involvement and education. A lot of well-meaning NGOs go and do lots and lots and lots of water systems, but without proper training of the communities and without proper understanding of what community.

And what structure they will have to take care of these systems over time. And so the, now that those are our two areas of focus, that expertise, and then real community involvement and empowerment

[00:11:14] Jess: because you guys aren’t there for the months and years afterwards, it’s the community that’s left. There’s an issue with the pump, or like you mentioned how they’re going to

[00:11:23] Sarah: use it, but we’re still around.

And we don’t a hundred percent of our systems are not hands-off. We have about an 80% of our, our ground clutter projects that have not needed our intervention afterwards, but we’re constantly checking in and monitoring. We have impact measurement data collection that we do once a year. But still we have about 20% of our projects that have required our ongoing support or at least once or twice over the life of their systems.

And it’s been 12 years now, at least there’s that. And we have a growing staff in east Africa. Now we have six full-time staff in east Africa, amazing people that work really, really hard and inspire me every day.

[00:12:04] Mason: Backing out just a little bit is, you know, is water crises. And, you know, maybe particularly in Africa, is it 100% a climate change issue?

It seems like it’s almost a hundred percent of climate change. Well, these are population.

[00:12:19] Sarah: It depends on who you ask because, uh, somebody like me, when I, when I hear water crisis, the first thing I think is people who don’t have access because they’ve been marginalized. They’ve been pushed out of where they are.

They’re an absolute poverty. They don’t have any recourse. The government’s corrupt. They’re not getting piped with. Uh, or at least like several years ago, that’s what I would say. But, um, it is now it’s more people know now that it has a lot to do with climate change. Rainfall pattern patterns are changing.

Um, rivers and lakes are drying up. Groundwater levels are changing. So even over the. You know, decade that I’ve been doing this work in these areas, we have seen like an average of like 10 foot drop in water Wells across the board, which is significant. Especially if you have drilled a water. Well, and you’ve, you’ve, you know, you’ve got your, your pump is in a certain spot that is supposed to pull from the water and then, and then it’s not.

Yeah, it’s a really big problem. And I think unfortunately, our sector is definitely talking about it, but there’s no sort of large scale and United effort to address how we might change as an industry to be able to adapt to that. A couple

[00:13:29] Mason: of random questions. How deep are the Wells

[00:13:30] Sarah: typically? Yeah, the ones that we do our most shallow Boral is 76, 6 meters meters.

And then our deepest is 312.

[00:13:40] Mason: So 250 feet, 30,000 feet. Yeah.

[00:13:44] Sarah: Nice. You’re good at math over there.

[00:13:48] Jess: I knew it was times three, but I wasn’t going to do this like,

[00:13:51] Mason: and another random engineering question. I know that pumps can only pull water. It’s like 32 feet. Before they start pitting, how do pumps work? What do you mean by pitting it a, it creates air pockets that then crush again.

And they ended up damaging the walls of whatever they’re being pumped

[00:14:10] Sarah: through. That’s where the expertise around our casing design comes in and is very important. And that the casing, if it’s steel, then you’re not going to have the flex that PVC does. And so that has more integrity and will protect the pump.

We also do. Oh, I get too esoteric. This is real. This is really cool stuff. And it’s like the secret to a successful well, and in a big way, but, uh, slotting the casing or screening it in certain regions where you’re going to pull from, uh, different aquifers where the water is low sediment and, you know, And that will also help the integrity of the pump, where you pull from where the pump is.

Home is really important. And then we, if there’s any kind of sediment in the water or TDS, then we put sleeves what they call sleeves kind of around to help

[00:14:54] Mason: with that as well. And you keep saying where the pump is hung. Yeah. Do, why do pumps need.

[00:15:03] Sarah: Hanging out the pump is, is submerged into the casing and you drop it down so that it stays within the casing at a certain level. And we just call it hanging in the pump. Yeah, that’s our lingo.

[00:15:19] Mason: So it’s the case in really big or the

[00:15:22] Sarah: pumps small, the casing. Well, we do anywhere between. And even 10 inch casing these days, and then the pump will fit within that nicely snug it’s snug a bit, but not, not with any friction.

[00:15:37] Mason: We’ll leave the, uh, pipe and pump jokes

[00:15:40] Sarah: alone. I know I had a few in my head. I wasn’t sure I’ve had enough wine yet. Mary.

[00:15:47] Mason: So how many communities has well-aware helped in the last 12 years?

[00:15:52] Sarah: Uh, 84 different communities. About half of those are groundwater projects. We also do rainwater harvesting and some pipeline projects from a natural source.

If it’s, if it’s high enough fielding and we can preserve this spring so that we’re not opening it up to contamination, we’re pulling from it. But so those are the different types of projects we do. And we do rehabilitate some what our roles occasionally as well, because there are plenty of broken ones, but in our experience only about one in every 10 of those are good candidates.

[00:16:25] Jess: Um, and so your water systems, they lower disease rates and improve classroom attendance, which. Communities thrive. Can you help our listeners and us, you know, understand what that means and what the benefits are and

[00:16:37] Mason: high level, what is clear? How does clean water change the

[00:16:39] Sarah: community? Yes. Thank you. Before I’m going to get a little bit low level again.

Well, just, just to, um, reiterate the importance of the types of systems that we do, because the types of boreholes that we’re drilling, or even if we’re doing the pipeline. Or a really comprehensive rainwater system. Um, we’re, we’re making sure that we’re going to be able to serve the entire population of the community.

And so on average, our systems are serving about 3,500 people, I think is our average. So they’re pretty big systems.

[00:17:09] Jess: I think that’s much bigger than I thought. I don’t know what number I had in my head, but 3,500 was

[00:17:16] Sarah: 200. I don’t know that, but that’s, that’s about average of what? Like the hand crank the hand pump systems conserve.

Yep. Gotcha. And I’m happy to talk about the issues with those, but I don’t know if we want to go down that road right now, just yet. So I mentioned. The distinction between the types of systems we do, because a community is much more likely to embrace a new water, source it. If it, if it is actually making an impact on their community.

And it’s a tangible impact. One of the obstacles in doing this work in, in developing regions is helping people understand that the new water source that you provided is better than the river, where they’ve been getting. But if the new water source, isn’t also helping to keep the kids in school or reducing the amount of time that women have to walk to go get that water, or if they can’t use it to water their crops or boil water or cook with it, then they’re much less likely to actually embrace that system or care for it.

And that does contribute to, to that, to the failure rate. So it’s important that, uh, it’s accessible to the entire community. It’s structured a certain way. And when it is then diseases. Plummet. And we had just have the most beautiful data state data set of how issues like typhoid and cholera and malaria are almost non-existent after they’ve had one of these, um, new sources of water for awhile and keeping kids in school, uh, is another, uh, incredible impact of having a clean source of water.

That’s next to the school. And most of our groundwater projects these days are on school property because we realize now how important that is. It also helps with the care of the water system because you have that built-in infrastructure of sort of the water committee is already there. So to speak. I think the statistics.

About a 54% increase in overall classroom attendance. Once there’s clean water at a school for girls at 65%. Wow. Yeah, that’s amazing. So I don’t know it fell over at this, or I’ve talked to you about it before, but, um, what a lot of people don’t realize, because we’re just so far removed from, from the issues that these communities face is that when a girl enters puberty and she, she really needs sanitation hygiene.

Um, care when she goes to school. If there’s no clean water there and that’s not available to her, she’s not going to go for a week or so. And then she falls behind now. Right? I think

[00:19:39] Jess: I have heard that when that issue for girls in school and they miss so much school due to that, I mean that week, every month, right?

[00:19:46] Sarah: Yeah. 25%. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s a game changer for girls. And then for every additional year, a young girl or girls in school, her future income goes up 12%. Wow.

[00:19:59] Mason: So amazing sweater, simple. Profound. So the well-aware gala happens to be the coolest water party

[00:20:10] Sarah: around I think so, too, but I’m biased.

[00:20:13] Mason: I think, unfortunately this will air right after, or shortly after this year’s gala.

But if you want to channel future Sarah and tell us how cool the gala just, oh, it

[00:20:26] Sarah: was the best party I’ve ever been to. And the best guests for you guys

[00:20:34] Jess: there was, oh, for this past one, I’ve only been to one of the galas, but you guys had two cast members from it’s always sunny in

[00:20:42] Sarah: Philadelphia. Yeah.

Charlie and Mary Elizabeth. Yeah. I think Mary Elizabeth will be here for the one week. She was just great. All right. I’m sorry, Charlie. Charlie’s on set, but, uh, we just had it at the Driscoll liver, 200 people there and it was a lovely evening.

[00:21:02] Mason: Um, since well aware, I feel like you’ll need to explain the journey to the newest project.

[00:21:10] Sarah: So it’s back to that failure. Right. And being so. Uh, discouraged by our industry, not really responding to it. And I think so 12 or so years ago when I started doing this work, it wasn’t, it wasn’t a part of anybody’s conversations. Like if I dig a lot for stuff and I was trying to find something about.

Mainly I found like one or two articles. It was sort of touching on it, but now at least now when we go to the conferences and reading with our peers, people are talking about the guided, but something about this failure rate, um, not to donors. So, you know, and you guys, aren’t really telling donors, you know, but at least it’s happening.

And because we live in a much more transparent world now it’s just going to, it’s going to be asked more and more, especially by larger funders. I hope. So while the were, was doing really well in, in scaling gracefully over the years. But I really kind of felt like, can we just do more for this big hidden crisis and

[00:22:13] Mason: yes, not a competition.


[00:22:15] Sarah: yeah,

[00:22:17] Mason: exactly. Have a hundred percent success rate

[00:22:21] Sarah: or at least strive for it instead of ignoring it. And so at the same time I was, I was just starting to feeling like I really wanted to do something more about that. Not just within the work of well-aware, but look for the second. And at the same time, technology is leapfrogging.

What we have here in, in these developing regions, especially in east Africa, it’s phenomenal. So, so many people have phones. Owning a cell phone is more ubiquitous and having access to a toilet on the continent. 70% of Sub-Saharan Africa has internet connectivity. So thinking, wait, if, if we can be in contact with people as.

Right information and offer support. Why are we not leveraging that to do so? And so I thought, cause I guess when I was starting well aware that what am I going to drill? Well, I don’t know what I’m doing, but let’s do it. So I said, why don’t we build up whenever

[00:23:15] Jess: everybody’s doing it,

[00:23:19] Sarah: everybody has an app.

I can pull it out. Oh gosh. I had no idea what we were getting into. However, uh, we did, we did it. It’s taken some years. And the first, at least I had the wherewithal in the beginning to partner with another Toyota mother of invention who had created a medical diagnostic app for last mile communities. And we used her tool, adapted it and ran tests on our diagnostics and maintenance ideas.

W with really, really well, so well that we are really, really excited and, and, uh, and started laying the groundwork to hire our own coders and formed a company. And, um, and now we have, uh, we’re pretty much out of beta and we’ve been deploying the maintenance part for water systems with well-aware for the past six months.

And just so excited about the weight that that’s going and how. Significantly improve well-aware is operations and work, but, uh, hopefully lots and lots of other peoples, because I’m not really telling you what it is though. I,

[00:24:19] Mason: I was about to go back there and be like, let’s see, how does it do this?

[00:24:24] Sarah: So with this expertise, um, it’s not really like that.

Deep of a knowledge base that you need. And in our experience, when we are called out to go take a look at something that’s not going right with this system more often than not, it’s a pretty simple fix. So, you know, the flip switch, maybe that’s disconnected or there’s a pipeline break or, or the valve is off the control blocks got fry.

Anyway, we took our expertise and, um, experience in the field with these systems and communities and created a really. Diagnostic tree. It’s a decision tree. It’s really, all it is is it’s low tech, but then we, we, we realized, well, that’s cool. We should also have like, these incrementally required maintenance checklists, because we know for sure that if you’re caring for the system better and you know how to care for the system better and it’ll last longer, and you won’t have.

All this downtime without literally your only source of water that you have to wait, wait weeks to get repaired, and then you have to pay for that repair. And so, uh, in, um, some of our early trials, we remotely watched a community troubleshoot and solve a problem on their water system in under two hours that would have taken two weeks to fix and been a lot more expensive.

Had they not had this tool just in their hands. So that is the point of the app. Now too, we have partners that are using our app because we built in training modules. So we have sanitation hygiene training. Now we have reproductive health and feminine hygiene training. So we’re just sending all of this information to communities in a way that was cost-prohibitive before and logistically cumbersome, almost impossible.


[00:26:04] Mason: for well-aware and well beyond how can the mostly green crews, what we’re calling our, our crew of us enlisted. I support these

[00:26:14] Sarah: efforts. That’s really a good question. Also a well aware has a beautiful website. It’s well aware world.org in the show notes. Perfect. Thank you. And it’s easy to navigate and figure out how you can get involved where our project work is.

Who’s on the team besides the gala one. Biggest events. It’s actually our, you know, it’s our event. It was the very first fundraiser we ever had and it’s called the shower strike and it’s all virtual and it’s, it’s a peer to peer fundraiser. It’s kind of like a bike raid, you know, that you do, you sign up for, but it’s.

If you don’t have to go ride or run, you just don’t shower and people give you a buddy and it’s surprisingly effective. And

[00:26:57] Jess: so you tally, or those who are participating will share tally how many days they haven’t gone without showering.

[00:27:03] Sarah: So the, the idea is. Mainly have people do it week I’ve gone longer.

And nobody donated to me through COVID. I feel like it’s surprising how squeamish people get here about skipping showers, but that’s okay. Um, I mean, I

[00:27:22] Jess: think through COVID there is like a significant drop in deodorant sales. So I mean, lots of people were not showering for probably a week at a time. So maybe this year, maybe last year I didn’t have the,

[00:27:32] Sarah: we did, we did our best shower strike ever this past year.

Really? Yeah. Um, when COVID first happened, we actually canceled it. Uh, which was heartbreaking. It was the only, it’s the only year in the last 13 years that we haven’t haven’t had it. So to maximum of a week and you set your own fundraising goal, and the idea is you do not shower until you reach that goal.

Gotcha. Yeah. So one of the ways you’re betting on yourself, kind of, yeah. Yeah. It’s up to you when you get to shower again,

[00:28:02] Mason: I feel like that should be smelled test.

[00:28:04] Sarah: This drift as well, but see, here’s the thing too, though. There’s lots of loopholes in the shower, strike rules. So, you know, you get bucket baths.

I think, I don’t know. I just have to skip the shows, these loopholes I’m with you. We just decided that maybe more people would do it. If we had some, the only

[00:28:26] Mason: way to get around it should be. The ice bucket challenge.

[00:28:30] Sarah: Oh yeah. I forgot about that thing. That was a good idea. That’s the only option

[00:28:36] Jess: Mason would Excel in that one because he does cold plans.

[00:28:40] Sarah: Oh my gosh. We both,

[00:28:43] Jess: well, Mason started doing them and then I joined him for awhile. This was like a year and a half ago. Maybe. No, not that long. No winter this year. Okay. So about a year ago when you start. Half the year, half a year. I’m sorry. We can edit that silly three quarters

[00:28:59] Sarah: of a year.

[00:29:01] Jess: He’s just so much, I don’t know if you’re better at it or you.

Power through more so than I can. Um, but we have a cold plunge tub and he stays in it for four minutes at like 46 degrees. And today I did it for 20 seconds. So I was like, that’s sometimes that’s my max that

[00:29:17] Mason: I can do. You have to build up to it for sure. Yeah. It is better than coffee. It just gets me and starts working.

Cause it, you know, your body thinks it’s dying. So releases all those endorphins and says, please don’t die. Figure out how to not freeze to death right now. And, uh, and those are more powerful than caffeine.

[00:29:37] Sarah: I don’t know. They might stick to coffee.

[00:29:43] Mason: It’s also got lots of anti-aging

[00:29:44] Sarah: benefits that, so I’m a weenie about the cold though.

I, I can’t for up for a long, yeah.

[00:29:51] Mason: I’d say Jessica has a very narrow band of comfort is how I call it

[00:29:56] Sarah: very easily.

[00:29:56] Jess: Get cold and it very easily get hot.

[00:29:58] Sarah: It’s like, okay. Yeah. Well, you, you know, your comfort zone clear on it. And Mason knows it too at this

[00:30:05] Mason: point. And you can do it thermometer to it. Basically.


[00:30:08] Sarah: don’t mind being hot. It can be.

[00:30:10] Mason: She doesn’t mind being in hot weather, but she’s quick to call it.

[00:30:14] Jess: So when is the, I’m sorry, what is the term for it? When does that typically take place? Every

[00:30:21] Sarah: April. Every April. Okay. It’s usually around earth day. We used to start every year on earth day now are faced with somewhere.

Yeah, events and calendars and things.

[00:30:32] Mason: We met at CCS y’all came and we talked about the shower strike and my operations manager was very quick to point out. I don’t want any of these people not showering for even a single day because they were in, you know, food process and they have to. All smashed up and wash their hands and their feet five times, I’m going to reset that air flow and everything.

So it was pretty, it was a pretty funny meeting or I was into it. I’m like, yeah, we can all. And he was like, Nope, Nope. These people, I want them to shower as much as

[00:31:07] Sarah: possible. Yeah, I get that.

[00:31:11] Mason: But then y’all had some great ideas. So if anyone who works at a company and you’re not sure how to get involved with it, y’all came and brainstormed with us on ways to.

We sponsor, we ended up sponsoring a class.

[00:31:22] Sarah: Yes, that was great. Cause we have more class was we have more, more classrooms now getting involved in shower

[00:31:29] Mason: strike. So the kids are very excited as less of a challenge. Ah, let’s do this

[00:31:36] Jess: and they can tell you, mom and dad know I’m doing something, I’m doing something for the right reasons,

[00:31:42] Sarah: but it’s great because we have classrooms and school clubs, and in certain cases, entire schools here and in all parts of the country who are getting involved in shower strike, and we, we typically match them with a sponsor so that they know that every dollar they raise is getting matched.

Does that make. Cited and they get so into it. We have this one school that does shower strike every year in, um, a small city in Iowa. And more than half the kids there are on free or reduced lunch, but they have been our biggest classroom fundraisers since they’ve been involved seven or eight years ago, and these kids and they talk about, and the second graders, sorry, they talk about how.

Amazing. They feel that they have the power to help people and make a difference for these other people, neither side of the world. And I get goosebumps even talking about it because, um, you know, getting to, uh, I hate the word empower. It’s such a buzzword, isn’t it, but really, you know, support these kids and understanding that they do have that power and they can make a difference in that way is, is isn’t as another great side effect of what we do.

[00:32:50] Mason: You get involved in a project. I counsel water quality here.

[00:32:56] Sarah: I’m not supposed to say.

You know, our, our issues here. Well, with the exception, you know, California and west Texas, and in the west syndrome in general, it’s suffering largely from agriculture projects, but it’s mostly due to politics or climate change. Um, and then in, in politics and, um, who’s in charge and who’s paying the most money.

Unfortunately, but wow. I digress. What was the question? Oh, the water quality here. It does depend. Yeah. And you know, the naturally occurring minerals in, um, a sediment is variable. The United States again, uh, in North Carolina where my aunt lives on the side of the mountain, there are there water’s really high in iron, but it’s, it’s below the level of the threshold where it would be dangerous, but you can kind of taste it.

And, uh, the water

[00:33:50] Mason: near Dallas, that it has a really high level of Lithia. And they sell it. It’s called crazy water and they bottle it up. They bottle it up and sell it. Cause they had a psychiatric facility there because the people who drank the water in the area, which is calmer than anywhere else. So people would go there either.

Then they turned it into a spa and then they started bottling the water. It’s so interesting. And when I launched green lane in Dallas, What would, they came across our radar and we started carrying it and I was drinking like two

[00:34:23] Sarah: cigarettes a

[00:34:25] Mason: day of the most, they have different levels. They have crazy water, one through four, and four is like full lithium, probably anti-depressant level.

And I was just pounding that water to get through the launch. That’s

[00:34:38] Sarah: amazing. And maybe dangerous. Yeah.

[00:34:42] Jess: That’s my next question. Like how it affects.

[00:34:45] Mason: Yeah, I didn’t care. Cause it would kept me calm. Yeah.

[00:34:47] Jess: Well, I’m just like maybe we should buy a case or so, but I like to know the side effects first

[00:34:52] Mason: before. I mean, there’s probably millions of people on lithium.

I think it’s just all about

[00:34:56] Sarah: dosing it’s oh, it’s, over-prescribed

[00:35:01] Mason: kind of an issue which does it. I hear then it ends up in our water systems again, as,

[00:35:06] Sarah: as everything else, antibiotic. Yeah, birth control. Like all kinds of things are ending up in our water, which makes it more costly to be able to treat the water for a municipal supplies.

But I don’t know if anybody’s doing anything about that.

[00:35:19] Mason: Does your work over in Africa affect how you think,

[00:35:24] Sarah: oh man, are you kidding me? Like, my kid is so crazy about when I, if I leave the water on, because it’s like, you know, drilled it into her. Yeah. It really does. I’ve had to make an effort over the years to not be self-reliant.

And not be judgmental because we’re also, we also only have our own perspective and our own experience. Um, and that’s all we can be expected to have, uh, and, and own. But I, I have become a big conserver and, you know, almost a minimalist in what. Because of where I get to spend a lot of my time. Um, and it’s not because I feel guilty and I tell everybody if when they travel with us or just start to deeply understand our work, that’s pointless.

It’s not going to serve anybody instead. Just understand that it’s, it’s a beautiful perspective. That’s a gift. And then you can apply that in your life. However you feel is, um, is appropriate, but it is that perspective that it has allowed me to live my life in a more simple way. Than I am deeply grateful for in

[00:36:29] Jess: what are some of the ways that you can serve water at home?

Mostly? Like what can our listeners kind of take tips

[00:36:35] Sarah: from we? Um, we’ve we, you know, we have the low flow, everything. We also. What’s that dual flush. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. I do wish it were more readily available here. The sink potty hybrids all over Japan. Yeah. It makes so much sense. Why don’t we don’t have that on every home.

And why do you want, why don’t we have solar panels on every roof, you know?

But the best way to conserve water is to go and shower strike.

[00:37:07] Mason: Yeah. To quantify that one week of the entire city, not in water, how much

[00:37:13] Sarah: they’re pretty big impact, but I, I will, I will say, and you can edit me out if you’d like, but when, when people ask me about this and, and water and, uh, we can do as individuals and consumers to help have an impact on the reduction of this problem.

I have to mention that. The 80% of our water problems in the west are from big business corporations. And it’s a lot of agriculture it’s of textile production and inefficient ways to produce textiles. So what you were saying earlier about voting with your dollar? I, you know, that’s a, that’s a really big deal.

I think that people don’t understand and it’s a lot, it’s an extra work to understand where your genes came from or how much water it takes to make different things that.

[00:37:57] Mason: Yeah, that’s great point. What are the resources? We can put them in show notes and we’d love to post that as we talk about this episode, we can post swear to,

[00:38:05] Sarah: yeah, let me, let me make sure that it’s kind of an old link that I used to access all the time.

It was water footprint.com I think. And that’s our, you could find how much water it takes to make generally different types of product. And it did have information on different brands and companies. There are companies now, too, that are at least there they’re PR. People are talking about how they’re trying to conserve water and cut back on, on different things.

And I really do think that they probably are because as more people know things and especially this new generation, they’re expecting companies to take responsibility for their food. It’s

[00:38:42] Mason: a common thread that we’re hearing. And I read a quote just the other day that even if everybody drove electric cars and they quoted three or four other kind of major things that we’re supposed to be doing as consumers to reduce our carbon footprint, they were like the top a hundred companies in the world would still be producing 70% of the pollution out there.

And maybe that was carbon. Yeah. Or whatever. And so biggest impact thing we can do seems to be voting with our dollars and the things that we consume. And we added, we’re doing a, have just done a deep dive into household waste and plastics, and it’s really about pressuring companies to change what they do.

And it’s not, we shouldn’t feel bad that our, what we buy. Is wrapped in three layers of plastic. Like they need to not wrap it in three layers of plastic. Sure.

[00:39:35] Sarah: Fault. It’s just because everything is done that way now. Yeah. I mean, unless you have the extra time and the resources and honestly the privilege to be able to seek out the things that aren’t wrapped that way or it’s, um, it’s almost impossible.

[00:39:52] Mason: We’re bringing resources. We do have like, in our, on our website, we have brands that we love that, that do. Most of them eliminate plastic altogether. Amazing. Yeah. And so we’re hopefully more brands like that will come about and yeah, we can move them downstream to where it doesn’t take privilege to make that

[00:40:11] Jess: change.

Yeah. I also have a list. I think of four companies right now, which has just been within the last month that I’ve received their package. And I know that. Like one is a food product and they’re all about organic ingredients. And I know that they’re trying to do the right things in terms of how they’re sourcing their food, but the packaging it came in, it was wrapped in plastic.

They had, you know, the. Film mailers that they sent it in. And so I think even as consumers, it’s reaching out to those companies, if you care about and a different one had peanuts in it and I’m like, who are using peanuts anymore. Wow. Yeah. And so I have, you know, it’s on my to-do list. I haven’t done it quite yet, but I plan to reach out to the companies and I know websites that offer sustainable packaging for businesses.

And it’s like, here’s a link. There are other options out there. So even. Companies doing the right thing, but not packaging it and shipping it the right way.

[00:41:00] Sarah: Exactly. Yeah. And, and really just maybe, you know, maybe we consume. Right. Right. And reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s that’s a really, really good thing to do for home water stuff.

The largest consumption in like wealthier neighborhoods in the U S is as lawn care. So zero skin that’s extensive. My advice for

[00:41:22] Mason: we have a sensor on our water system and it does, it still drives me crazy to walk down the street. And it had just rained everything soggy and someone’s irrigation is coming out during the day and immediately after a rain.

And there’s so many triggers that you can put in there now to have smart irrigation and ours was clocked at. Uh, on an annual basis, average was 85% less water than the normal system for what it would be because it tracked the water that came down and made sure that the moisture got, you know, it wasn’t watered above a trigger.

And so you can do dramatic even with, without going full zeroscaping.

[00:41:59] Sarah: Yeah, we did true. And it’s, it’s pretty cheap to get those monitors installed and look at it on your app.

[00:42:07] Mason: The question you got any take on fluoride in water?

[00:42:10] Sarah: I don’t, maybe I should. I know that naturally occurring fluoride in a certain parts of the world can be quite dangerous for groundwater.

That’s what I know. So when I hear the word fluoride, I go, look, I only tried that with reverse osmosis, but as far as how we add it to water here, I don’t know. What do you think? Is it good? I think that’s a question for me.

[00:42:35] Mason: I think there is. Uh, one of my favorite quotes was from a woman who started a xylitol gum company called Zelle.

And she was in town here I am. Anyway. Yeah. And she, and she was a dentist and she came up with all these gums and things that were safer. And I was like, what’s your take on fluoride? And she’s like, I love fluoride for your teeth. And I’m like, oh, and she goes, but I don’t think we should be eating it.

We’re not eating sunscreen either. Like, do you think we should drink sunscreen? And so there really is a difference between it can be beneficial in your mouth to help build up defenses, but then once ingesting fluoride can cause other problems. But at there in my research at the end of the day, there was just very little data on either side.

Just there was one study back in the fifties. And then every municipality was like, put fluoride in water. It’s good for your teeth. So it must be good to put it in the water and where the issue really comes in is the type of fluoride they use. And the whole way fluoride in water came about in America was from industrial waste.

And there’s a thing called a hydro fluoro Chlor a mean. And so it was a toxic waste product of industrial chemical applications. But when you diluted enough and in enough water, then it separates out a little bit. You get that flora, but then you also get all the other chemicals in there. I don’t know a ton about it, but from what I read, I was like, I think I’ll use a, you know, we’ve got a three-stage filter on our house that pulls out the fluoride.

[00:44:14] Sarah: Yeah. Filter at home too. Yeah. Uh, yeah. And that’s interesting cause I, I haven’t looked into it as much as y’all have, but I’ve always wondered. There’s gotta be another reason that they’re slower. I’d add it to water besides just. You know, dental health. Yeah.

[00:44:29] Mason: It’s

[00:44:30] Sarah: an industrial by-product. Yeah, that makes a lot more sense.

So they

[00:44:32] Mason: couldn’t dump on the ground.

[00:44:33] Sarah: Okay. Clears that

[00:44:35] Mason: up. Okay. Uh, we’re about out of time. What are you excited about right

[00:44:41] Sarah: now? Gosh, um, I’m excited about a lot, right? A lot right now, especially well, being here with you guys and getting to do this podcast, it’s really cool. Some big. And I’m really, really excited about this new tool, the app that we’ve built in the software.

Because it’s going to further improve well aware of the nonprofits they’re reporting and how we are scaling and growing and adding more projects and then managing that well and smoothly, but then how we might be able to really make a dent, um, in this failure rate in our sector. And I didn’t mention it earlier, but we are going to also start incorporating, going to integrate into the app.

Um, the new strike API, which enables people to exchange. Uh, huh. Yeah, crypto on the, on the blockchain with basically no fees. And that might really, really ambitious and lofty create sort of a defy situation. And these last mile communities that hasn’t existed. And one of the other reasons that people get stuck in absolute poverty is, um, a lack of way, a lack of a way to bank or exchange money without fees or a credit check or, you know, driver’s license.

And so I’m, uh, I’m really, really excited about

[00:45:55] Mason: that too. The coolest benefit of decentralized ledger and cryptocurrency. I think I’ve heard of to date because you become a distribution channel for that. And then the effect of that is that you have a pool of people you can call from and say, You want to help your community?

You have better water too. Yeah. Yeah,

[00:46:18] Sarah: exactly. That is so cool. Thank you. I’m so excited about it. And I’ve told a few people this week and they’re like, what? But it is so cool because you know, because so many people, I mean, even if this had existed, you know, a few months ago, how do you reach this market?

That’s unreachable. Well, there’s a lot, the biggest presence in these communities is it. And if you can just, you know, put this tool in the hands of them and the communities and they can exchange this currency and a stable coin and not have to worry about their local inflation. And I’m just real excited about that.