Toying with bottle design

A playful bottle is engineered for educational, environmental, and humanitarian benefits.

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Every week there seems to be a new take on sustainability. This latest one, Connect Bottle™, connects "greening" with used soda bottles in a playful way. And it may also have humanitarian benefits. It comes at a time when plastic bottles, especially for water, have been labeled by critics as earth unfriendly.

The Connect Bottle enables its users to connect the bottles by threading them together or inserting the cap into the connector piece at the bottom of the bottle. Adding a series of lightweight plastic connectors and wheels, in an assortment of shapes will turn the empty containers into letters of the alphabet, goal posts, a soccer goal, animals, tunnels, vehicles… an endless variety of creative possibilities.

The basic connector piece is molded into the bottom of the bottles enabling the bottles to be connected with their caps on or off. Since the basic connector is molded into the bottle base, the classic shapes of traditional, easily recognizable containers could be maintained without sacrificing any of their original characteristics. The Connect Bottle system is said to work with any size or shape bottle or container.

The idea comes from Steven Klein, president of KleinCepts Inc. A retired NYC educator, Klein is the founder of the Learning Store Ltd., a small chain of educational toy stores.
Klein originally developed the patent-pending system as an educational toy. He later discovered that the invention could have environmental and humanitarian benefits. The Connect Bottle will reduce the amount of plastic bottles in landfills, while creating fun toys for kids that could also be used to insulate homes.

As a building toy, Klein compares it to hardwood blocks or Lego's. Optional connectors, wheels, lights, remote controls are currently being developed. Annual creative building contests for elementary, high school, and college students (with scholarships or cash awards as incentives) are also being planned.

A bottled home?

Connect Bottle can also be used to create insulation for homes. Since air within a sealed container provides excellent insulation, empty containers utilizing this system could be threaded together end to end to form strips of insulation. The insulation strips would be lined up side by side to create insulation for shelters in third world countries. This will create additional positive public relations for brands utilizing the system.
[Note: If this topic is of interest, click here to take a fascinating look at recovering waste containers including PET for insulation purposes].

Fortuitous timing

Klein says even he has been taken aback by the rapid and enthusiastic response to the concept. "I just introduced the concept in October at the IBWA [International Bottled Water Assn.] trade show, and the response even floored me," he tells PI. "I had expected that it would take longer just to catch on, but there's a need to offset the current negative feedback in the bottled water industry."

He acknowledges that the outpouring of bad press for plastic water bottles has served as a helpful backdrop: It comes at a time when the bottled water industry can use some good news.

"I've taken trash and turned it into something that has educational, environmental, and humanitarian benefits," summarizes Klein. "This gives consumers three options when they're finished with the bottle:
1. Give it to their kids to play with.
2. Donate it to a school or poor children around the world who don’t have toys.
3. Donate to third world countries where they can use the bottles to make insulated shelters."

Klein is currently in confidential negotiations with a company that he describes as a "major worldwide player."

"There is nothing better in life than to earn a living by helping people and make a positive change in the world," Klein summarizes. "I did that once when I founded a small chain of educational toy stores that specialized in toys for the blind and for handicapped children. That experience has taken me to this point, and I'm excited to see where this journey will take me."

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