Shawn Scully and Bryan Dittebrandt of ÜR Watür: “Have conversations with your kids”

Have conversations with your kids, it’s not difficult as they are consuming this content on various forms of social media and in their classrooms. Believe it or not…they care too. This has become a topic of many school essays recently. As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I […]

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Have conversations with your kids, it’s not difficult as they are consuming this content on various forms of social media and in their classrooms. Believe it or not…they care too. This has become a topic of many school essays recently.

As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bryan Dittebrandt and Shawn Scully.

As huge water drinkers of their own, Bryan and Shawn know the health benefits, but also found how harmful the plastic containers can be not only on the human body but on mother earth as well. As consumers, they noticed a lack of sustainable and on-the-go options, so their journey began. ÜR Watür focuses on getting rid of plastic bottles while still providing something easy and convenient. Sustainability is at the forefront of their mission, as it aims to protect the environment while at the same time focusing on innovation.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Absolutely. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. This really unfolded in two ways; organically and strategically. First and foremost, we are (drinking) water fanatics. So, when we ran across a documentary about the detriment of plastic and the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, it just seemed natural to do what we could to try and combat this issue in an impactful way. Research began and we soon discovered how often single-use plastic water bottles were not only purchased, but discarded at almost the same pace. Couple that with the fact that plastic only recycles down until it eventually ends its life as a microplastic too small to recycle. This means that cancer-causing microplastics remain on the planet and in the oceans, which leads to being ingested by sea life and humans. Our path was paved from this point to find the most effective solution to this problem. It was an added bonus that this focus allowed us to implement our passion for drinking water to assist us with this global dilemma.

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

The mission is simple… it’s time for an alternative to single-use plastic water bottles. Over one million plastic water bottles are bought every minute of every day. These bottles eventually end up in our landfills and oceans which adds up to over 5 trillion pieces of micro and macro plastics in our oceans to date. This adds up to 46,000 pieces for every square mile of ocean. As mentioned earlier, plastic doesn’t get recycled as much as one would think and when it does, it’s downcycled which just delays the inevitable. By choosing our refillable and reusable bottle it’s possible to make a difference in the quality of our beaches and oceans with the reduction of plastic that is absorbed and consumed by sea life. We are using this as our platform to educate the public on the harmful effects of ingesting microplastics and at the same time leading the way to a sustainable future.

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

We believe that aluminum can be a building block of the circular economy because of its unique qualities, such as its infinite recyclability without degradation of quality. Today, over 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use. This is the main reason we chose this versatile material for our bottles.

Recycling helps reduce greenhouse gases by reducing energy consumption, which reduces the need for virgin materials and requires less energy to produce. Therefore, we are all seeing an uptick in major companies expanding on their recycling efforts, including using recycled aluminum for everyday products with big-name backing.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

The feedback from consumers didn’t lead us down the easy path, but it was the right path. This is not about becoming more profitable at this point… it’s about changing the game. Therefore, we set out to provide an alternative solution to the plastic water bottle industry. We are far from high-profit margins, but doing the right thing for the environment feels like a win to us!

The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

  1. Have conversations with your kids, it’s not difficult as they are consuming this content on various forms of social media and in their classrooms. Believe it or not…they care too. This has become a topic of many school essays recently.
  2. Be the example, it all starts at home. Make sure you are using separate cans for compost, recyclables, and garbage. The responsibility has now become an opportunity for teaching.
  3. Encourage them to be creative with their schoolwork and if anyone has an art class… boom you are in! Implement items that can be recycled or have multiple uses into their project as these are great tools to educate them during a fun and creative project.
  4. Start a home garden. It doesn’t have to be huge and this creates a project that gives them a responsibility that you can have fun with.
  5. Volunteer to clean up your neighborhood or get the community together to clean up the local park and streets. What you’ll need: (1) Trash bags, one for trash and a separate for recyclables; (2) Gloves for safety and to practice Covid-19 safety measures; (3) An optional pickup stick and off you go. Teaching your kids to have pride in the neighborhood is important and this gives the neighborhood the opportunity to unite and get to know each other.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Be prepared to learn every process. Remember that no one cares as much as you and it’s important to understand each process from the beginning… don’t worry about mastering everything just understand the process and who makes decisions along the way!
  2. Your weekends will suck! Not really but you’ll soon learn that no one works on weekends which can put you behind schedule. We soon realized that Fridays suck as that means we must wait until Monday for answers, quotes, graphics, etc. On the bright side… we now look forward to Mondays!
  3. Understand the supply chain. This is the key element to your sales! Start as early as possible to connect and build these relationships as these people end up being key decision-makers that ultimately approve or deny you. Know their processes and steps and do your best to stay ahead of their curve. The easier you make their jobs the quicker they can plug you into their schematics.
  4. Find ÜR audience. Probably easier said than done but when you do, you’ll know. Of course, you think everyone is the perfect consumer to buy your product but that’s never the case. It’s up to you to get very specific to your core audience.
  5. Create something remarkable. Luckily, we stumbled across the book Purple Cow by Seth Godin and we highly recommend this to any entrepreneur or business who is looking to shake things up. In the book, Seth mentions that playing it safe is risky and fitting in is a failure to a busy marketplace. “By not standing out is the same as being invisible.” Be remarkable and take your idea to the edge!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, of course. We must give a special thanks to our families who have encouraged us and believed in us along the way because without them we wouldn’t be speaking with you today. As much as we are grateful for their support, we are equally grateful for the relationships we built with our suppliers. We were very lucky along the way as we started this journey during Covid-19, a very challenging year for everyone. We made some tough decisions to move forward when the world seemed to shut down for a year and we used that time to eventually connect and build relationships with high-end executives that would normally be very rare to negotiate with. They very quickly became major supporters of our brand and mission.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Dedicate a week out of the year to highlight people who are awesomÜR and doing crazy good things to bring awareness to the environment. Something as small as a beach clean, city park clean-up, or even around your own neighborhood can have a ripple effect and progress to other positive and great movements. Be the example that inspires positive things. We get what we give in this life.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

“You’ll always get what you always got if you always do what you always did”. This is a great quote that applies to any aspect of life, and it really ties in with our mission as it’s time to change the game. If it’s not working… do something different and change the outcome!

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

You can find us @ur_watur_inc on Instagram.

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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