Clean water, clean conscience


Scarcity of clean water may not be something too many in Pictou County have to worry about, however, in other countries, it can mean life or death. A local businesswoman and entrepreneur is looking to change the future for those in need of clean water to drink.

Rebecca Battist of Lyons Brook decided that was something she felt she had to take on after watching a documentary in 2015 about water that opened her eyes to the mass scale of the problem.

With open defecation (raw sewage), agricultural chemicals and runoff as well as by-products of production from things like the fashion industry all running into rivers and waterways that people rely on, there are a lot of issues to tackle when it comes to clean water.

After doing research on a number of different filtration system types, and what some of the biggest pollution causes are, Battist decided to start up Aegir and Ran, an environmentally conscious clothing company.

Battist was living in Norway when she came up with the logo for her company, the globe inside a water droplet. The name itself also has meaning behind it.

“In Norse mythology Aegir and Ran are the animating properties of the ocean,” she explained. They are roughly the equivalent to Neptune or Poseidon of Greek and Roman mythology.

Battist is hoping to use her company to help create a change in how we think about water and how things are made.

“That’s why I’ve been trying to figure out ways we can change the industry to reduce and reuse what we have,” she said about the fashion industry. To kick off this change, all of her clothing is Canadian made from bamboo, a highly sustainable and more environmentally friendly crop. All screen printing for her clothing is completed in Truro and embroidery done at Wear Well Garments, all companies that have to follow proper regulations for their water use and water waste, unlike many places overseas.

The industry is not something Battist decided to jump into all of a sudden; after earning a degree in fashion design in Montreal, a business degree from the local Nova Scotia Community College and gaining experience from running a successful business by herself for several years, she knows the ins and outs of the industry.

Battist added that when people purchase a piece of Aegir and Ran clothing, some of the money they spend goes toward things like investing in research to clean up polluted water, looking into filtration systems for areas where no clean drinking water is available as well as money going into the Canadian businesses she supports that use sustainable water practices.

So far, Aegir and Ran products can be found at Perfect Diversity in New Glasgow or by contacting Battist on the page’s Facebook and Instagram accounts under the company name.

“My greatest fear is that my children will have to fight a war over water,” said Battist. “It’s about trying to pass on something better to our children instead of leaving our children to clean up our mess after we’ve reaped the benefits.”

Facts about water scarcity:

  • Around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity. (Global Water Institute, 2013)
  • With the existing climate change scenario, by 2030, water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places will displace between 24 million and 700 million people.(UNCCD).
  • A third of the world’s biggest groundwater systems are already in distress. (Richey et al., 2015).
  • 3.6 billion people worldwide (nearly half the global population) are already living in potential water-scarce areas at least one month per year and this could increase to 4.8–5.7 billion in 2050 (UNESCO, 2018)
  • Globally, it is likely that over 80 per cent of wastewater is released to the environment without adequate treatment (UNESCO, 2017).
  • 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. (WHO/UNICEF 2015)
  • 842,000 people die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene. (WHO 2012)
  • For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of at least $4 is returned in increased productivity. (WHO 2012)
  • It is estimated that fewer than 20 per cent of the world’s drainage basins exhibit nearly pristine water quality. (UNESCO, 2009)
  • Reducing the time it takes to fetch water from 30 to 15 minutes increased girls’ school attendance by 12 per cent, according to a study in Tanzania. (UNICEF)

More water facts can be found at:

Aegir and Ran owner Rebecca Battist shows off one of her beanies for the eco-friendly and water conscious clothing line.

(Brimicombe photo)