Monday, December 10, 2007

Bottled Water Controversy

There's a controversy going on right now in Canada regarding the use of bottled water in government. A group, primarily for environmentalist reasons, is trying to get a rule in place that bottled water is not used in government buildings. I suppose they probably mean not sold in government buildings, nor put out when events are catered.

It turns out that bottled water is less regulated than tap water, in terms of safety. That means, given some random bottle of bottled water, it need not, legally, be as healthful as water you get from the tap. The argument goes that tap water is at least as good as bottled.

In addition there are environmental reasons not to use bottled water. It's just water, for crying out loud, so why bottle it and ship it and then throw it away? The shipping, creation, and disposal of bottled water uses a lot of energy, which means more pollution. Drinking water shipped in from Fiji, for example, is a huge waste of energy.
(Ironically, bottled waters also get criticized for not being spring water. I hear people complain about Dasani being from the tap (they add minerals.) From an environmental perspective, it's better that it's from the tap, though it is deceptive to call it "spring water," which, in all fairness, Dasani doesn't do. )

So environmentally, it sounds like a no-brainer, right?

The bottled water companies have argued with this, and they just might be right: bottled water competes with soda (pop, as Canadians and people from Rochester say), not tap water. People are drinking bottled water instead of Pepsi, not tap water.

This has interesting environmental implications, if true. If people are choosing bottled water over Coke, it means that if bottled water isn't an option they'll drink Coke. A bottle of Coke is no better for the environment than water, and it's worse for your teeth and weight. I know that sometimes I've seen a tray of drinks, and if I was very thirsty, I'd just get water instead of Crush or something. Bottled water may be less likely to be healthful than tap water, but it's very probably better for you than Crush.

If, on the other hand, people drink bottled water as an alternative to tap water, then yes, it is wasteful.

There's probably a bit of both going on. It calls for scientific study. Interviewing people on their habits of drinking water of various kinds could shed some much needed scientific light on the subject.

Anybody know of such a study?

4 comments:

Eric Yaverbaum said...

People drink bottled water because there has been major major dollars spent marketing it to us for the last decade. MAJOR marketing. Don't buy their argument that they are switching us from their own other lousy products that rot our teeth and contribute to obesity. Bottled water is just plain dumb. And please from Fiji? This is one of the very easiest decisions we can make to help the environment. Check out the website of a company I co-founded- Tappening.com. And do me a big favor and don't buy the bottles I am selling. Buy someone else's-but read the information on ours. We're in it for the information...not the sale. Happy for you to buy anyone's bottle...just stop the nonsense of buying tap water in a bottle.

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric what is it you plan to do with all the money you have made selling those bottles under the guise of trying to stop bottled water?

You are a marketing machine and you are just exploiting the situation to gain a buck!

Eric Yaverbaum said...

A portion of the profits are going to promote Garbage! The Revolution starts at home. The majority of the rest will go to self fund the campaign. And then yes, we may make a profit. And if we do, we'll certainly be transparent about it. We won't be anonymous and we won't be apologetic. I learned from Bono and Bobby Shriver and their principles in starting RED. Corporate America could solve large problems, but realistically they would only do so if they could make a profit. And now RED is starting to solve a problem in a far greater way.But when your company goes from nothing to a frenzy in 36 hours...it takes a long time to build the infrastructure under it to support interest that we did not anticipate so quickly. But we're working on that and when we start making money, I'll be almost as happy about it as I will the ways in which we made a difference in helping to clean up our planet. I think that works for everyone?

Eric Yaverbaum said...
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