Robin Lewis is a Tokyo based social entrepreneur set to launch the innovative social equity building MyMizu app. This app will allow users to find and share locations across Japan to refill water bottles at clean drinking water sources across Japan for free.
Summer is a thirsty time and many rely on the convenience of buying bottles of water from drink machines and stores, but these single-use plastic bottles are a waste of resources and a plastic pollution nightmare. Many travelers, residents and active people rely on clean drinking water as an aspect of a healthy life, but as the popularity of plastic bottles of drinking water in vending machines has increased, the number of water fountains and water refilling stations has been in decline.
Audio Version of the entire interview with Robin Lewis here:
Robin Lewis (Endo Takashi) grew up in the UK, Hong Kong, and Japan. He came back in 2011 to assist with volunteer efforts in Tohoku where he shares heritage from and felt a strong desire to help the area recover and rebuild in any way he could.
Robin has spent half a decade traveling in Japan and abroad working for international aid organizations volunteering and learning about the need for sustainability especially in terms of water security. Despite the various cultures, communities, and environmental differences, one need that was consistent everywhere is the need for access to clean drinking water.
In our discussion, Robin said he first got the idea as he traveled the world on volunteer projects with Peace Boat and came back to Japan with a strong conviction that access to drinking water is a basic human right. Discussing ideas with friends and colleagues culminated into building the app and collecting locations of filling stations across Japan.
Robin laughs that his inbox is bizarrely filled with pictures of water fountains across Japan and messages about how to find them. When things have been difficult in developing the app and making this great idea into a reality, Robin says he was encouraged by messages from people supporting his efforts.
In terms of being a social entrepreneur and creating a start-up in Japan, Robin says the most important thing is to learn from and collaborate with others doing great things in Japan- a support network is a powerful aspect to creating positive change. Robin has created a great network through his work with Social Innovation Japan which hosts regular talks and networking events in Tokyo.
When I first came to Japan, every school, park and public facility had a water fountain, but now they are so hard to find. In my work with international travelers, I’ve met many who say they resort to filling their water bottles in the restroom sinks because they either are ethically opposed to buying water which they consider to be a human right, can’t afford to keep buying bottled water, or are concerned about the amount of plastic waste of buying PET bottles. There are still some water fountains and water refilling sources and this is where the utility of the MyMizu app is clear.
MyMizu is a fantastic resource for locals but will be invaluable in the hot summer Tokyo Olympic games when the number of inbound visitors to Japan is predicted to be the highest ever. Access to clean, free drinking water for the millions of visitors watching the games will save lives as well as keep people happier while visiting Japan- true Omotenashi.
This app will provide a great service to visitors, residents, athletes and even useful for pet owners. Keeping everyone hydrated, healthier and happier around Japan.
Big thank you to Robin and his team for all the hard work you are doing to make this great idea become a reality!
See more about the #mymizu project here:
Official website: https://www.mymizu.co/
Bilingual and Bicultural
Residents of Japan who bring
International appeal to Japanese heritage, community development, culture, and tourist appeal to off-the-beaten-track
Destinations by working alongside local
Groups to encourage and
Engage with locals to facilitate positive change
BRIDGE series – interviews with international residents in Japan working as social entrepreneurs trying to positively impact Japanese society and environment in their career.