Exceptional Environs

From innovative water-bottle refill stations to organized shoreline cleanups, Entrepreneur Dara Schoenwald wears many hats when it comes to helping locals live eco-minded.
Text by Sandy Lindsey | May 11, 2018 | People

Dara Schoenwald, Co-Founder of Woosh Water and has done many things in her career — from tech startups in Silicon Valley to the anthropology of Capoeira in Brazil to her most recent role as an eco-activist and social entrepreneur in Miami. “I like to say that I’m now in version Dara 3.0,” she says. “I’ve always been insanely curious, with a strong sense of wanderlust, and that has taken me down different paths in life.” Her current focus is learning how to better motivate people to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviors. She’s accomplishing this through a pair of separate but related initiatives: Woosh Water and “ raises awareness for the problem of marine debris that’s a result of our culture of overconsumption and preference for the convenience of single-use disposable items,” she says. “Woosh Water is part of the solution — making it easier for people to live a more sustainable lifestyle.”
Schoenwald became involved with Woosh Water as a result of The Miami Foundation’s Public Spaces Challenge, a crowd-sourcing idea competition, where she was awarded a grant for her submission to put a water-bottle refill station in a public park. Out of that project and the associated PR, she was introduced to Woosh Water, a start-up out of Tel-Aviv, and they eventually decided to partner together to bring their network of smart, connected water stations to Miami Beach. Not only do they dispense filtered, purified and chilled water, the stations also come equipped with a bottle rinsing and cleansing system.
Similarly, started out as a good idea that’s taken on a life of its own. “Living on Biscayne Bay, and enjoying time spent on the water, kayaking and paddle boarding, my life partner Dave Doebler and I simply could not ignore all of the trash and plastic pollution we were finding,” she says. “We started the website as a side-project to connect those who wanted to organize shoreline cleanups with the volunteers who were looking to get involved.” A few years later, they are a 501(c)(3) and have grown significantly. There are several well-attended shoreline cleanup events happening just about every weekend, and in the past year, they have facilitated over 250 cleanups events and approximately 20,000 volunteer hours, amounting to an estimated 50,000 pounds of marine debris removed from local shorelines.
Currently, the team is redesigning their website with the goal of being the “Craigslist of shoreline cleanups.” “We’ve done that for Miami and have proven the model but now need to expand our geographical reach for greater impact,” concludes Schoenwald. Over at Woosh Water, they’re focused on the launch of the service in Miami Beach and then expanding into other areas of South Florida and beyond soon thereafter;;