Evian http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4131/all en-US Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2 http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plastic%20bottle.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This is the second in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the first installment, <a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1"><em>click here</em></a><em>. To read the third installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></em></p> <p>Bottled water companies do an excellent job of marketing their product. Don&#39;t think I haven&#39;t fallen for it a time or two. I have. I do occasionally buy bottled water, and of course, there are times when water in a bottle is your only option. If I have a choice between a bottle of Coca Cola and a bottle of water, I&#39;ll go for the water (and recycle the bottle, if at all possible). And there <strong>are</strong> places, even in the US, in which the tap water is darn near undrinkable straight out of the tap. Recalling the taste of the tap water in my Brooklyn apartment still sends a little shudder down my spine.</p> <p>In any case, seeing as how I live in a glass house with my occasional bottle of Evian, I&#39;m <strong>not throwing stones at people</strong> who choose to drink bottled water every now and then (despite what some slightly <em>challenged</em> readers might think), even if bottled-water drinkers have access to clean and tasty tap water. But what about people who ONLY drink bottled water, even with access to clean municipal water? Why do they do it? </p> <h4>Isn&#39;t It Ironic? Don&#39;t You Think?</h4> <p>I&#39;d argue that they&#39;re probably health-conscious people who have bought into an idea sold by the water bottling companies - that their clean, pure water cleanses your body and flushes out toxins. The irony of this is that<strong> people who are concerned about environmental toxins in their systems are only helping to perpetuate the pollution and enviromental degradation</strong> by buying bottled water, the production of which just makes everything worse off in the long run.</p> <p>Or, in the case of my friend, some water drinkers are absolutely convinced that their tap water must be dirty.</p> <p>Now, we all fall under the spell of marketing campaigns that sell us an image as well as a product (if I drink this beer, chicks in bikinis will dig me; if I wear this lipstick, I&#39;m irresistible to men - and it won&#39;t kiss off on their collars!), but in this case, we&#39;re paying good money for something that we can get for so much cheaper. At least with things like deodorant or snazzy cars or jewelry, we are making purchases of good that we couldn&#39;t easily create or access on our own. I don&#39;t have the resources to make my own Chanel lipstick from scratch.</p> <h4>Creating Demand</h4> <p>Companies that bottle and sell water make all kinds of claims about the health benefits of drinking their products. A couple of great examples are Fiji Water, from the Fiji Islands, and Evian, which hails from France.</p> <p>From <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/21/BUGE7NL8RA1.DTL">SF Gate.com</a>: </p> <p class="blockquote">The Web site for Fiji Water (fijiwater.com) says the water &quot;is drawn from an artesian aquifer, located at the very edge of a primitive rainforest, hundreds of miles away from the nearest continent.&quot; That distance, it adds, &quot;is part of what makes us so much more pure and so much healthier than other bottled waters.&quot; </p> <p>Grace Jeon, Fiji Water&#39;s vice president of marketing, said Fiji Water has a naturally high level of silica, which she said &quot;helps strengthen your hair, skin and nails.&quot;</p> <p>David Schardt, senior nutritionist at Washington&#39;s Center for Science in the Public Interest, said it appears that Fiji Water is taking liberties with the purported health benefits of silica. </p> <p>&quot;There are no studies showing that the silica in Fiji Water has any demonstrable effect on the human body,&quot; he said. </p> <p>Fiji Water has done an amazing job, under the tutelage of some <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/21/BUGE7NL8RA1.DTL">very smart owners</a>, becoming a premier designer water. Fiji water is so coveted that Sarah Silverman has spoofed it as something that a diva demands. And how can we resist? A <a href="http://artvoice.com/issues/v6n6/bottled_insanity">remote, tropical location</a>? Palm trees and frangipani? I can smell the coconut suntan lotion from here.</p> <p>Because of its remote location, Fiji Water remains probably the most inefficient form of hydration. The <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/pablo_calculate.php">production of one bottle of water</a> requires 7 times the amount of water that is IN the bottle.</p> <p>Evian was the Queen of Bottled Water until Fiji cam along and started touting it&#39;s benefits. Evian claims to be bottled in the French Alps (how much purer can you get than that?) and their main web page reads simply &quot;evian detox&quot;. Evian&#39;s iconic white-capped mountains definitely speak of pure, clean and fresh water.</p> <p>Evian also has a really bizarre, almost Evangelically-virgin-y-sounding &quot;<a href="http://www.detoxwithevian.co.uk/index.cfm">Purity Pact</a>&quot; that you can sign up for - test your purity, and vow not to drink anything but Evian! This is for the UK site, probably the &quot;<a href="http://www.puritytest.net/">Purity Test</a>&quot; that you can take online would cause most younger Americans to snicker. Loudly. </p> <p>Dasani is one of the most affordable bottled waters available in the US, at about $1 per 18-ounce bottle. Owned and bottled by the Coca Cola Company, <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0304-04.htm">Dasani is just tap water</a>. Filtered tap water, but tap water nonetheless.</p> <p class="blockquote">This is the essence of brand equity, and it&#39;s why consumers are happy to pay over the odds for Welsh TyNant water in Cyprus, or French Evian in the Peruvian Andes. It&#39;s also why the &quot;water sommelier&quot; has become a feature of upmarket U.S. restaurants. </p> <p>&quot;Branding does matter, even for a mundane product like water,&quot; Frits van Dijk, chief executive of Nestle Waters, said last year. </p> <p>&quot;We produce value-added waters. Marketing and R&amp;D all have to be financed somehow and that&#39;s why you&#39;ll never see Nestle in the very low price market. It&#39;s not our territory.&quot; </p> <p>There you have it. Value-added waters. And by &quot;value&quot;, they mean &quot;this water costs us next to nothing to bring to market, but you&#39;ll pay through the nose for it&quot;. Think about it - the mark-up on something like a can or bottle of Coke is pretty steep. Production costs, even factoring bottling and transportation costs, are minimal, so Coca Cola makes great profits on every bottle that we purchase. But compared to bottled tap water that has been run through a filter, a bottle of Coke is <strong>expensive</strong> to manufacture. </p> <p>By the way, Dasani gets an interestingly mixed review regarding its taste at <a href="http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/dasani/">The BevNET.com</a>.</p> <p class="blockquote">This water, which has a slightly grainy appearance, actually has a somewhat pleasant taste. Unlike many other bottled waters which taste like plastic, Dasani has a clean and pure flavor that we found to be quite refreshing. Overall, a fairly decent bottled water with a pleasant taste.</p> <p>I&#39;m afraid I have no idea what to make of &quot;grainy appearance&quot;. Are they talking about the bottle? The water is grainy? Would that be the opposite of silky (which is how Fiji Water describes their drinking experience)?</p> <p>Designer water is an increasingly popular thing, but it can be easy to be mislead about the source of the water. There are sites set up that are <a href="http://www.finewaters.com/">dedicated</a> to telling you what waters taste the best. I once stayed in a hipster hotel in Portland, OR, that provided a couple of $8 bottles of water in each room. Glass bottles, snazzy caps, lovely packaging. The name included an umlat, to indicate just how exotic it was. But like exotically-named <a href="http://www.hearhear.us/articles/2006/07/26/haagen-dazs-aztec">Häagen-Dazs</a> ice cream, it was all about appearances: it was tap water (you had to read the fine print to figure that out).</p> <p>Now, again, I&#39;m not saying it&#39;s a sin to buy a bottle of Dasani or even Evian if you are thirsty and need water and find yourself somewhere without access to good, healthy, tasty water. But to do so every day, to purchase these products in lieu of being prepared and providing your own bottle of clean tap water, filtered or not... well, I&#39;m not going to call it a sin, but is it a responsible choice?</p> <h4>What About Taste?</h4> <p>My best friend is a great guy. He doesn&#39;t waste stuff. I&#39;ve got him recycling. He doesn&#39;t blow money on useless crap. He&#39;s frugal. He also, until last week, would buy flats of bottled water at Costco every couple of weeks, because he believes that the water from his tap is bad.</p> <p>Seattle has some pretty safe tap water. It isn&#39;t as tasty as the stuff I grew up with (yummy, rural well water that was so ridiculously pure that it even tasted slightly sweet), but it isn&#39;t bad, either. It&#39;s certainly better than the water I have tasted in other larger cities.</p> <p>I&#39;m very sensitive to smells and tastes, and I can smell the tiniest amount of chlorine in a glass of wafter. Even then, our tap water is pretty good. But I still filter it, which is a habit that I developed when I lived on the East Coast.</p> <p>I know a lot of people who have come to the conclusion that our tap water is dirty or unsafe or full of chemicals. But I&#39;ve actually noticed that these people (they include two coworkers, the aforementioned best friend, three family members, and a couple fo good friends) will drink the tap water served in restaurants without a complaint. Sure, maybe they don&#39;t want to pay $6 for a bottle of Evian and are just drinking the water out of a sense of frugality. Or maybe they assume that swanky restaurants serve really good tap water. Whatever the case is, I&#39;d bet my Brita filter that most of these people wouldn&#39;t be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test between tap water and bottled water.</p> <p>ABC&#39;s 20/20 claims that their unscientific blind taste test found that participants <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Health/story?id=728070&amp;page=1">couldn&#39;t tell the difference</a> between tap and bottled water. According to the Mr. Mustachio himself, John Stossel:</p> <p class="blockquote">In our test of bottled waters, Kmart&#39;s American Fare — the cheapest brand — won. Big-seller Aquafina came in second. Iceland Spring tied the ordinary tap water for third place. Fifth place went to Poland Spring, and in last place, by far, with almost half the testers saying it tasted bad, was the most expensive water — the fancy French stuff, Evian. </p> <p>But let&#39;s just assume you can tell the difference - are you certain that your bottled water is any more pure than the tap water? Since many bottled waters actually come from the tap, how can you be certain that you are taking a real purity pledge when you pay through the nose for bottled water?</p> <h4>What about chemicals? Isn&#39;t bottled water safer?</h4> <p>Many Americans claim to drink bottled water because they feel like tap water is unsafe to drink. And according to the FDA, it&#39;s true that bottled water has stricter rules on the allowable levels of some dangerous chemicals, such as lead:</p> <p class="blockquote">&quot;Generally, over the years, the FDA has adopted EPA standards for tap water as standards for bottled water,&quot; Kim says. As a result, standards for contaminants in tap water and bottled water are very similar.</p> <p>However, in some instances, standards for bottled water are different than for tap water. Kim cites lead as an example. Because lead can leach from pipes as water travels from water utilities to home faucets, the EPA set an action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) in tap water. This means that when lead levels are above 15 ppb in tap water that reaches home faucets, water utilities must treat the water to reduce the lead levels to below 15 ppb. In bottled water, where lead pipes are not used, the lead limit is set at 5 ppb. Based on FDA survey information, bottlers can readily produce bottled water products with lead levels below 5 ppb. This action was consistent with the FDA&#39;s goal of reducing consumers&#39; exposure to lead in drinking water to the extent practicable.</p> <p>That seems fairly reassuring, especially to people who are worried about exposure to <a href="http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead/lead1.html">lead poisoning</a>. And in older buildings, lead in the water can be a serious problem, but it is usually mitigated by simply running the water for twenty minutes or so. Interestingly, the FDA doesn&#39;t say anything about how the regulate the bottled water industry, or whether or not they inspect the bottling plants, or how the verify that the water sold comes from the advertised destination.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp">Natural Resources Defense Council</a>:</p> <p class="blockquote">Gaping holes remain in the regulatory fabric for bottled water, and FDA and state resources dedicated to bottled water protection and enforcement generally are thin to nonexistent. For example, FDA&#39;s head bottled water regulator estimates that FDA has just <em>one half</em> of a person (full-time equivalent or FTE) per year dedicated to bottled water regulation. <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp#note114"><font size="1"><sup>[114]</sup></font></a> Similarly, bottled water compliance is a low priority for FDA, so specific figures are not kept for resources dedicated to ensuring it meets standards; the compliance office estimated in 1998 that a likely total of &quot;less than one&quot; FDA staff person (FTE) is dedicated to bottled water compliance. <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp#note115"><font size="1"><sup>[115]</sup></font></a></p> <p>The NDRC report, which I highly recommend as some good, tree-huggin&#39; readin&#39;, states very clearly that they are not suggesting that bottled water is any less pure than tap water, and state that they have documented tap water contamination in the past. But they also point out that water bottled and sold in the same state is NOT subject to the FDA regulations, as flimsy as those regulations are. </p> <p><a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0205-01.htm">According to the Earth Policy Institute</a>, &quot;[t]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets more stringent quality standards for tap water than does the Food and Drug Administration for the bottled stuff....&quot;</p> <p>Dasani is just filtered tap water, like we mentioned. Sure, it might be purer than the water from your tap, but is that worth the cost when you could just filter it yourself?</p> <h4>What about Fiji Water, the <a href="http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/biz2/0701/gallery.101dumbest_2007/20.html">purest of the pure</a>?</h4> <p class="blockquote">Los Angeles-based Fiji Water runs magazine ads for its bottled water with the headline &quot;The Label Says Fiji Because It&#39;s Not Bottled in Cleveland.&quot; </p> <p>Cleveland officials retaliate by running tests revealing that Fiji bottled water contains 6.3 micrograms of arsenic per liter, while the city&#39;s tap water has none. </p> <p><em>This is the second in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the first installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1"><em>click here</em></a><em>. To read the third installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>(Photo by <a href="http://www.recyclethis.co.uk/">How Can I Recycle This?</a>)</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2" class="sharethis-link" title="Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Green Living bottled branding chemicals Dasani detox efficient Evian Fiji lead marketing packaging pure water Thu, 19 Apr 2007 18:11:54 +0000 Andrea Karim 527 at http://www.wisebread.com Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 1 http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/water.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="180" height="240" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This is the first in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the second installment, <a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2"><em>click here</em></a><em>. To read the third installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></em></p> <p>Have you ever stopped to think about just how incredibly odd it is to buy bottled water? I&#39;m only recently coming to understand just how ludicrous the whole thing is.</p> <p>Really, think about it:</p> <ul> <li>America has some of the best civil infrastructure in the world. Most Americans have clean drinking water piped directly into their sinks. Yet, we persist in buying the bottled stuff. </li> <li>Sales of bottled water topped $35 billion in 2003, and have gone up steadily since.</li> <li>Bottled water costs consumers of the Starbucks Ethos brand roughly <a href="http://jeffmatthewsisnotmakingthisup.blogspot.com/2005/09/too-expensiveat-one-third-cost-of.html">$9.85 per gallon</a>, just a tad more than gasoline. Oh, wait - yes, that&#39;s triple the cost of gasoline. Now, not everyone buys Ethos-brand bottled water, and you can get a purified gallon of water at the supermarket for roughly a dollar. That&#39;s still a dollar too much.</li> </ul> <h4>Time for a Metaphor </h4> <p>Let&#39;s imagine that there&#39;s a guy who lives in France, we&#39;ll call him Pepe, who generates really green electricity from his windfarm. He can ship the power in the form of HUGE batteries, from France. You can then go the store, buy a huge battery, hook the battery up to your house, and voila!- you are able to use it to power your lights. Great! When you are finished, you just throw the battery away and buy another one at the store. Sure, you could just use the electricity that is wired into your home, but green power is better, right? </p> <p>Well, when we buy bottled water, especially bottled water from overseas (like Fiji), that&#39;s exactly what we are doing. We&#39;re deciding against something that we have immediate access to, something that pours freely into our sinks at the twist of a handle. But instead, many of us prefer to purchase water. Water, which is sort of ubiquitous, now arrives in plastic bottles, bottles that are polluting to create and polluting to get rid of. </p> <p>Fossil fuels are burned moving the water across the ocean (in what I like to call &quot;an ironic twist&quot;), and then a diesel-burning truck brings the water to your grocery store, which you drive to in your gas-burning car. </p> <p>Where you buy it. And drink it. And throw away the bottle.</p> <h4>Environmental Impact</h4> <p>The environmental impact that the bottled water craze is having on our planet is <a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/lack07252006.html">staggering</a>:</p> <p>Bottled water is responsible for an enormous increase in world production of plastic bottles. Surging sales of bottled water coincided with and may help account for a 56 per cent increase in U.S. plastic resin manufacture in the U.S.A. between 1995 and 2001 (from 32 million tons to over 50 million tons annually). Consuming critical supplies of petroleum and natural gas, plastic bottle factories create and release toxic wastes, including benzine, xylene, and oxides of ethylene into the environment.</p> <p>Drinking bottled water actually increases the price of gasoline, because the manufacturing of the bottles and the transportation of the water simply increases demand for oil. I&#39;m not going to say that if you drink Evian, the terrorists have won, but keep in mind that when you buy bottled water, <strong>you&#39;re not just consuming bottled water</strong>. You&#39;re consuming (and paying for) all of the chemicals that went into producing that bottle that the water arrived in, as well as the gas and oil consumed in bringing the water to you.</p> <p>It&#39;s shockingly inefficient. It&#39;s also ridiculously <a href="http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/specials/brokenpromises/288097_plastic10.asp">bad for our planet</a>:</p> <p class="blockquote">&quot;About 300 billion pounds of plastic are produced each year, said Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. That&#39;s 1,000 pounds for every American. </p> <p>&quot;And massive amounts of it are washing into the sea. </p> <p>&quot;Swirling in the Pacific Ocean is an area of man-made trash the size of Texas. A few years ago Moore towed a fine mesh net like a giant cheesecloth through the area -- dubbed the &quot;great garbage patch.&quot; The haul contained six times more plastic than plankton.&quot; </p> <p>Read that full article in the Seattle PI - I guarantee that it will make you think carefully about throwing away plastic. One thing that I didn&#39;t know was how plastic is capable of degrading. I had always been told that a plastic bottle now is a plastic bottle 2000 years from now - but plastic does break down into smaller pieces, and it&#39;s everywhere.</p> <p class="blockquote">The trouble is that there&#39;s no effective way to remove the plastic pollution, whether it&#39;s in chunks or microscopic bits. Researchers say the solution is keeping it out of the water in the first place. And there&#39;s good reason to do so: it&#39;s on our dinner plates. </p> <p><em>This is the first in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the second installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2"><em>click here</em></a><em>. To read the third installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>(<em>Photo by shutterbug hottie </em><a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/11147789@N00/"><em>shrff14</em></a>)</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1" class="sharethis-link" title="Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 1" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Green Living bottled environment Evian Fiji plastic transport water Wed, 18 Apr 2007 22:04:19 +0000 Andrea Karim 523 at http://www.wisebread.com