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Jonas Tahlin (Absolut Elyx CEO) Q&A on his “Walk for Water” Involvement in Partnership with Water for the People

Today, 1.8 billion people lack access to safe water (World Health Organization). As part of a new 5-year campaign with Water For People, Absolut Elyx will help to provide access to safe water for over 100,000 people. For every bottle of vodka sold, Elyx will provide access to one week of safe water (140 liters) to someone in need through Water For People’s work. To raise awareness for the global water crisis, Absolut Elyx CEO Jonas Tahlin walked 4 miles every day for a week through West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Runyon Canyon carrying five gallons of water, to replicate the journey people in developing countries take. Tom Roberts, Director of Communications & Social Impact, performed the same journey throughout New York City. He used a Ultra Series Trekking Poles to help with the journey, find your perfect hiking poles here. We caught up with Jonas Tahlin, after his 7 day journey to learn more about the partnership between Absolut Elyx and Water for the People.

1. How did the partnership with Absolut Elyx and Water for People come about?

Elyx is a new luxury vodka made from 57.7% pure well water and water is a luxury to 1.8 billion people around the world. Elyx wanted to be part of solving that enormous problem. So we partnered with the respected NGO Water for People to provide at least 100,000 people with access to safe clean drinking water for generations to come. We will achieve that by building philanthropy into our business model, so that every time someone buys a bottle of Elyx in the US we will provide someone in need with one week’s worth of safe water – approximately 140 liters — for the next five years (at least).

We recently travelled to Peru to see the work of Water for People directly and that was a rewarding and eye-opening experience for us personally. We then decided to literally put ourselves in the shoes of people that don’t have access to water. They walk on average four miles every day to collect five gallons of water. And they do that every single day of their lives. So a colleague of mine — Tom Roberts (Director of Communications & Social Impact) — and I decided to do the same for a week — and use the opportunity to raise some extra funds for Water for People through Crowdrise at the same time. Tom and I are doing that as individuals, not as representatives of Elyx. And that’s how our “Walk for Water” came about.

2. Have you ever done anything comparable to this (walking 4 miles a day carrying 5 gallons of water)?

Well, I’ve climbed some tall mountains and done marathons, so I’ve exerted myself before, but not in the name of a good cause like this before. And I’ll tell you walking with five gallons of water is more painful than you’d think.

3. What did you learn from this experience?

It’s made me even more passionate about helping to solve the global water crisis. The UN has declared that access to safe water is the biggest issue facing mankind going forward. Understanding first in Peru what a difference an NGO like Water for People can do to peoples’ lives and then understanding the hardship involved in walking four miles to get access to safe water has really opened my own eyes to the importance of this issue. Avoiding that four mile walk means having time for other things like raising your kids or working to put food on the table.

4. Still or sparkling?

Still. That’s how it’s meant to be!

5. What kind of advice do you have for saving water (as you probably know, we have been in a drought for quite some time in Los Angeles)?

The drought here in LA is a serious issue and we all need to be mindful of our water consumption. I have changed my own behavior on small things, such as turning off the water when brushing my teeth or water use in the shower. These are small things but if we all do them – it will make a difference. There are also more water-efficient ways of having a nice garden that people should consider. But even though water shortage is a serious issue here in LA we still have to be mindful of the luxury we enjoy of literally having it on tap. 1.8 billion people around the world do not.

6. How can an individual get involved in this cause?

Buying Elyx instead of another high-end vodka is a good start! On top of that or if high-end vodka is just not your thing I urge everyone to get involved with an NGO like Water for People. They truly are an amazing organization and their work in India, Africa and South and Central America makes a huge difference for the people living there. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and now I’ve experienced their hardship too!


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