Why did you start the Rob Machado Foundation?
Rob: I started the Rob Machado Foundation back in 2004 with really just a simple goal in mind and it was to create environmental education for kids. I took my daughter to school one day and I was cruising around the campus and I noticed that there was no recycling. I thought, well that’s a simple fix. We could create a program where kids can recycle and learn about recycling. Now it’s just grown into so many little projects. We’ve started a gardening program, we’ve got beach cleanups, and now we’ve got water refill stations going into schools all over the place.
What sparked your interest in wanting to create a water filtration program like this? Where did the inspiration come from?
Rob: So I actually took a field trip to my daughter’s school, which was Cardiff Elementary School at the time, and I walked up and it was the same drinking fountain that I used to drink out of and I said, "Whoa this is so cool do you guys still drink out of these?" And they said, "No that’s disgusting! It tastes so gross!" And then I started looking around and that’s when I noticed that every kid had a plastic water bottle. This is back in 2005-2006 when that was just the norm. And I thought Hmm that’s so weird because when I was a kid, you know, you drank out of a drinking fountain, you drank out of a hose, you drank out of whatever. So I had this idea: let’s bring in some refill stations, let's replace old drinking fountains so that kids could come to school with a reusable water bottle and have access to good clean drinking water.
How many schools have you installed these water stations at so far?
Rob: We’ve installed 37 water refill stations at over 20 schools which is a lot of plastic water bottles that do not end up in the landfills.
How do you decide which schools you want to set these up at?
Rob: Our first refill station was put in at Cardiff Elementary School, because that’s where I went to school. So we basically went to all the schools that I went to school at, we went to Ada Harris Elementary, Oak Crest Middle School, and we did San Dieguito High School. My brother is a teacher at La Costa Canyon so we also went there. So that was kind of the nucleus was Encinitas and then we slowly just started expanding out. One school would hear that another school had gotten a water refill station and say hey! Can we get one of those? It just became this healthy growth of, let’s raise some money and put one in here and put one in over here. We’ve put a few in Orange County and now we’ve done some at the Life Guard headquarters and it feels like it’s growing at a nice healthy rate which is good.
Are there programs that go along with these stations where you educate kids on why something like this is important, how plastic affects the environment, etc. ?
Rob: We go onto the campuses when we install the refill stations and we want to educate the kids, really on a simple concept of, bringing your own reusable bottle. And it’s like now you have access to good clean water and the trickle-down from that goes back to the home where the kids tell their parents "hey you don’t need to buy those single-use plastic bottles that you put in my backpack I just need my cool water bottle all stickered up, you know, make it mine".
The education kind of spreads naturally. We have done some projects at San Digueto High School they started a water club. They were branding water bottles and handing them out on campus. But eventually, I would like for there to be a program that we could lock in.
At Vuori we have something called “Investment in Happiness” that is our product guarantee but it’s also our philosophy on how we do business and care for both our team and the environment. We’re stoked to have you as our first-ever Investment in Happiness ambassador. As Vuori’s Investment in Happiness Ambassador, How do you feel this project/ program has helped you to inspire happiness and create meaningful experiences for those that you’ve been able to work with?
Rob: I’m so proud to be an ambassador for Investment in Happiness. I mean that’s really what we’re doing here, I’m pretty happy when I refill my water bottle with nice clean healthy drinking water, that’s really what it’s all about. It’s in our daily lives day in and day out, it’s everything we do, it’s how we’re taking care of ourselves and it’s how we’re taking care of the world around us.
What is your hope or dream in terms of what this becomes?
Rob: In a perfect world the Rob Machado foundation puts a refill station in every school in the world, but that’s probably not reality so I look at it like we’re doing this little by little in hopes to inspire people to do the same. This isn’t something where I own it, there should be water accessible to everyone all over the world. So that’s it, we’re just trying to inspire.
Is there anything else you want everyone to know? Are there any ways for people to get involved in helping out?
Rob: You can visit RobMachadoFoundation.org if you want to get involved and help out. We’re always doing cool things in the community, beach cleanups, little things here and there so check it out!