The lack of Czech restaurants that serve tap water is startling to some foreigners. Often the only water option is a pricy .03l bottle. But Czech tap water is completely safe to drink, and there’s been a burgeoning movement to get restaurants to provide diners with tap water for free, or a small charge.
Czech the Tap is the organization behind this initiative. Their database lists about 2,000 restaurants that do make tap water available. One of the co-founders of that NGO is continuing her water mission, this time, directed at individuals.
On World Water Day (March 22) Zaza Bottles launched pre-sales of their hip, eco-friendly water bottles. You could say Zaza founder Zuzana Cabejšková is addicted to tap water.
“I’ve always travelled a lot so I observed that foreign restaurants usually serve tap water,” she said in a press release. “Czech restaurants were really pushing bottled water, which makes little sense to me: why should I spend more money on an equivalent product, pollute the environment and end up with a dry throat anyway? Those 0.3l glass bottles can’t really quench one’s thirst during lunch.”
She and her Czech the Tap partner Marta Zveibil Hrubá have done blind water tastings across the country, offering people tap, bottled or spring water. Turns out 80% can’t tell the difference and 75% gave tap water the same or a better grade for taste.
“Tap water is approximately a thousand times more eco-friendly than bottled water,” Cabejšková said. “Statistically speaking, its quality is more trustworthy as well. The Státní zdravotní ústav (National Institute of Public Health) publishes annual reports which build on hundreds of thousands of laboratory analyses. The latest data from 2013 prove that 99.8% of all tap water results were compliant with compulsory quality guidelines.”
Expats.cz asked Cabejšková if she had any tips on how to get more restaurants to provide tap water.
“We’ve always encouraged people to reward the restaurant in return: buy an extra glass of wine or dessert, give a higher tip,” she said. “Asking in a polite way and showing that you’re not trying to rip the restaurant off but just wanting to be eco-friendly has worked best for me.”
People are warming to the trend; according to Euromonitor, sales of bottled water are down by 20% since 2008. But bottled water certainly isn’t going anywhere. Cabejšková believes tap water could use a good story.
“Half of the public water supply in the Czech Republic originates from underground resources so it’s in fact spring water, too. But no one ever tells you that!” she said. “We’re determined to make tap water everyone’s favorite drink. This vision is in line with sustainable development and we’re really inviting everyone to join us on this path to a waste-free world.”
Zaza will be launching a Kickstarter campaign on Earth Day, April 22, 2015 in the hopes of gaining the needed funds to begin full-scale production of their bottles. If all goes according to plan, production will begin this summer in Hradec Králové with bottles available for sale in December 2015. They are currently looking for a graphic designer to design the bottle’s insets and Cabejšková told Expats.cz that the future plan is to regularly launch limited editions of 350 pieces per each design.
“People following us will be able to choose from those and gather their own collection of Zaza accessories. Moreover, there will be a premium option of an entirely custom design developed with our graphic designer. Once we grow big enough, we’ll open an online self-service editor for custom versions.”
The 650ml (22oz) bottle is dishwasher safe and Cabejšková says they’ll fit in car cup holders and don’t have rubber rings in the lids that can make other reusable water bottles eventually smell bad. Cabejšková came up with the bottle idea along with designer Viki Pavlic when they were both studying in the Netherlands.
“We wanted a unique refillable bottle that would combine sustainability and style,” Pavlic said. “One that would reflect the individuality of millennials and offer a comfortable user experience.”
Carrying your own refillable water bottle should prevent you from running into the nearest potraviny when thirst strikes. If the idea sounds like a good one to you, pre-order a Zaza bottle before April 7, 2015. The price is 460 CZK and includes the bottle, shipping and 100 CZK will be donated to Kedjom-Keku to plant trees in the region’s biologically diverse mountain forests. The donation will be made immediately, you’ll receive your water bottle in December. This bottle bears a special motif as it’s in support of Water for Cameroon.
Cabejšková’s final thought: “I’d like your readers to remember that they will benefit both themselves as well as the environment if they drink tap water, regardless if it’s from a Zaza bottle or not!”
What is your experience ordering tap water in Prague restaurants?