Four years ago, Mark Sweet had a light bulb moment when he witnessed a group of tourists buying plastic bottles of water on a tour stop, and set about creating a system that purifies water at the point of delivery – the tap – to be served in recyclable bottles. Sweet, the founder of Vestal Water, is determined to change the way we view purchasing and consuming water and wants to create awareness about the environmental implications of buying water that is bottled here or overseas in glass or plastic and then transported to its point of sale.

The systems Vestal Water install vary from restaurant to restaurant, but all provide a system that serves pure ambient, pure chilled and carbonated chilled water from three taps attached to a system that purifies the tap water rather than having us buy water that is bottled here or overseas.

Adam Cash, co-owner and manager of Union Dining in Richmond, installed the reverse osmosis system in his restaurant recently, serving the three styles of water in 750ml bottles, which he sells for $7.50 a bottle. “I’d been looking [for an on-site carbonation system] for a while, as when I was in the States, I’d seen restaurants like the French Laundry with carbonation systems,” says Cash. “While there were cheaper options, none of the systems offered the purification and carbonation that Mark did, so we went with it.” Cash goes on to explain the positives of having such pure water in a food environment. “It’s purity means it doesn’t cloud any other flavours and it’s a Tasmanian company, so it feels good to support Australian business.”

The interesting point here is that the system not only changes the way we buy water, but potentially, the way we order it. We may be ensconced in the ‘still, sparkling or tap’ mentality, but perhaps we need to start asking for water differently. Cash explains: “We certainly still have tap water available, but instead of still or sparkling, we’re telling our customers we have still pure water or carbonated pure. The response to it has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Other restaurants to have installed the Vestal Water system include Ezard and Hairy Little Sista.