OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Green Sheep Water

The first bottled water to use 100% recyclable aluminum bottles and caps.

Photo of Nicole Doucet

Written by

Bottled water is healthy and convenient, but plastic bottles and caps create horrific amounts of waste, wreaking havoc on our environment. In fact, we're now using almost 500 billion plastic water bottles and sending 8 million tons of plastic into our oceans every year. This has to change. There are plenty of reusable bottles out there, but consumers continue to buy bottled beverages—they’re convenient and easily fit into modern consumers’ every day lives. That’s why we created Green Sheep Water: the first bottled water packaged with 100% recyclable aluminum bottles and caps.

Our aluminum packaging is the most recyclable option out there. It’s recycled more often and more efficiently than not only plastic, but also glass and even cartons. And since graphics are printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, we also eliminate the need for a plastic sleeve. We truly believe that the biggest change comes from lots of people making small, but better, choices every single day. That’s why Green Sheep is a pragmatic solution that is easy for consumers to adopt and drive real change.

Idea Title

Bye, Bye Plastic.

Company / Organization Name

Green Sheep Water


Where are you / your team located?

Chicago, IL

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

By using 100% recyclable aluminum packaging, Green Sheep Water eliminates the need for the 3 plastics used in bottled water packaging: PET (bottle), PP (cap), and PVC (sleeves). Often, municipalities only recycle the bottles because there’s a larger market for this material, meaning caps and sleeves are often left as waste. Our solution negates the need for a sleeve and provides a highly recyclable cap whose high scrap value ensures it will always be collected and recycled.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

There are a multitude of use cases for bottled water: picnics in the park, at a concert or sporting event, or really any time consumers want a healthy option on-the-go. Green Sheep Water allows people to enjoy the same convenience they're used to, while eliminating much of the small-sized plastic waste their same activities create now. Our aluminum packaging gets rid of the need for polypropylene caps and plastic sleeves, which most cities don't recycle and instead send to landfills and oceans.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Right now, we are focusing in the US, but our idea can easily be applied internationally. We have already had interest from customers in Canada, Europe, India, and China (which consumed 73 billion plastic bottles last year!).

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We're already operating in 12 US states and growing quickly. We entered the market by finding retail partners that share our eco-friendly values. These include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Patagonia, and Yellowstone National Park. As we expand, we envision producing our product as close to where it's distributed as possible, reducing emissions and impact even more. Hurdles will include pinpointing the right manufacturing partners as well as building up our distribution network.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Operating Concept / Startup: You have fulfilled the stages of testing, undertaken a full scale roll-out, and are currently operating this concept/idea as a business.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

The accelerator would be highly valuable considering our current progress and goals. We have products in the market, so the press we'd get would be a huge boost towards spreading our message. Increased exposure would lead to more partnerships with distributors, retailers, and non-profits, helping extend our impact to divert many more plastic bottles, caps, and sleeves from the waste stream. Access to manufacturing guidance would be helpful also, especially as we scale our operations overseas.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Our idea emerged after watching a documentary on ocean plastic pollution. Although reusable bottles are the best solution, they are often forgotten at home, so people end up buying a bottle and cap that pollute our seas forever. It turns out that sometimes the best solutions fail because they do not take into account human habits. Our idea is not a perfect solution but it might be the one we need to curb our plastic consumption. It turns out that sometimes the best solutions fail because t

Tell us about your work experience

Nicole studied economics and finance and recently received her MBA from the University of Chicago. Jess has a background in design and marketing. Both have worked on Green Sheep Water for 6 years.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Green Sheep, Inc. is a C-Corp


Join the conversation:

Photo of Camron Hinman

I think you have done a very good job showing the research on plastic bottles waste. The discussion of the plastic island on your website in very impactful, and will catch the attention of consumers who might not know the fact. You've done a really nice job with the website. Camron

Photo of Nicole Doucet

Thank you so much Camron :)

View all comments