How a founder and outdoor enthusiast continues to push the envelope for sustainability.
Jussi Oksanen is an Olympic athlete and professional snowboarder. He’s earned seven X Games medals and even represented Finland in the 1998 Winter Olympics. It’s safe to say he’s an outdoor enthusiast who knows what he needs from his gear.
Back in 2008 on a trip to Alaska, Oksanen noticed how many single-use plastic water bottles he was seeing in the beautiful natural landscape he was supposed to be enjoying. While hydration is obviously important—especially for backcountry snowboarding—Oksanen knew that there had to be a better way for consumers to stay hydrated on the go. Oksanen then went on a simple mission: find a reusable water bottle that could meet his body’s hydration needs and align with his personal style. When his search came up short, he decided to create one himself.
Mizu is Oksanen’s outdoor gear brand, and today, the company sells much more than water bottles. Here’s how the founder and outdoor enthusiast continues to push the envelope for sustainability within the company.
Mizu uses 18/8 food-grade stainless steel in its products, which indicates a balance of 18% chromium and 8% nickel along with the steel. In addition to being a top-tier material for durability and cleanliness, it’s one of the best options for the environment. Steel is the world’s #1 recycled material (outside of precious metals), and roughly 25% of all steel in use today is repurposed from recycled materials.
Steel is the world’s #1 recycled material (outside of precious metals), and roughly 25% of all steel in use today is repurposed from recycled materials.
Beyond sourcing high-quality materials, it’s important to Oksanen that the products his company creates stand up to the outdoor world. He personally tests new products in real-life applications, aiming to push the products to their limits to make sure they’ll hold up to extreme outdoor conditions.
At first glance, this may not seem connected to sustainability. However, the more durable and long-lasting each product is, the less products consumers will have to purchase to replace broken parts over time. Removing common points of product failure means each item will have a long shelf life.
For products that will require upkeep or replacement over time, Mizu’s team still aims to make each product as long-lasting as possible. For example, the company’s water filters and purifiers have a lifespan of 40 gallons, which can save the equivalent of 300 single-use plastic bottles. Although they do need to be replaced over time, the longevity helps reduce the total number of filters a customer might need in his or her lifetime.
Having an environmentally-friendly product isn’t especially helpful if it doesn’t help solve a problem for consumers. There are tons of great products on the market that are wasteful simply because no one really needs them. Mizu avoids this dilemma by putting thought behind each product design. For example, the Mizu Cutlery Set provides a reusable stainless-steel fork, knife, spoon, straw, and set of chopsticks to replace single-use cutlery on the go. The company’s original water bottle had a similar purpose: offer a satisfying alternative to single-use plastic bottles. Whenever possible, the company looks to provide an alternative to single-use plastic products that continue to clutter our natural spaces.
Lastly, like many sustainability-focused brands, Mizu supports other like-minded organizations with regular donations that further important causes. One such example is the Rob Machado Foundation, which educates children about single-use plastic consumption and the effects on our global oceans. Other examples include Trash Hero, Waves for Water, Charity Water, Give Clean Water, SIMA, Wildcoast. These organizations each have missions that revolve around reducing global waste, increasing access to clean water, and cleaning up our natural spaces.
Mizu also partners with 1% for the Planet, a global organization that accelerates environmental charity donations. The organization advises members on giving strategies, certifies donations, and helps to amplify the impact of the 1% network. Currently, only 3% of total philanthropy worldwide is related to environmental causes, and 1% for the Planet aims to increase that percentage. It has a total of 1,400 member businesses (including Mizu) who have collectively donated over $175 million to environmental causes. Mizu’s product line continues to evolve today, but it’s clear that the company is making a difference by helping to replace single-use plastics. We look forward to seeing what else the company can accomplish over time.
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