The Real Dumb Story of Bottled Water and the Lying Liars Who Tell It (Sorry Al Franken)
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the public relations arm of the bottled beverage industry, is taking another shot at controlling the message about water. This time, they point to a succession of overturned bans on bottled water to try to convince people that consumers are changing their minds about buying their “products,” the same product that is available without extra packaging from your tap at home.
Three overturned bans is a telling situation, but it’s probably more about hiring heavy-hitting lawyers than it is about consumers changing their minds. Let’s not forget that IBWA has friends in high places—like the governor of Virginia, for example. It would be difficult for IBWA to prove that the overturned ban in Virginia is a result of consumers banging on the state house’s front door. But, it would be really easy to point to the money that the McDonnell election campaign received from bottled water companies and think, “Now, THIS could be the reason the ban was overturned.”
In addition to this silly notion of consumers overturning bans, the IBWA fired back at the heavy-hitting film, The Story of Bottled Water with the equivalent of a finger-propelled rubber band. Their response, called The Real Story of Bottled Water falls short of extolling any “virtues” of a wasteful consumer product. The video completely misses on responding to the real criticisms of bottled water. I won’t even take a jab at the claymation bottle of water character they use. That would be below the conveyor belt.
IBWA continues to distract consumers by emphasizing how their product is recycled more than any other. In their eyes, that somehow makes them environmentally responsible. But they put more of their plastic bottles into the marketplace than anyone else. They focus on post-consumer recycling, but they’re adding packaging where it isn’t needed, and it puts the burden on consumers to figure out how to deal with the 80 percent of bottles that end up in landfills. They want to expand recycling instead of producing less waste. They also use close to 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans every year. Does that sound responsible?
IBWA created a bottle of water character out of clay to convince us that their product is safe, reliable and environmentally responsible. Safe: tap water is regulated for safety, where bottled water is not. Environmentally responsible: they create more garbage by adding a bottle. Tap water in a reusable container is the MOST environmentally responsible way of drinking water. Expensive: They failed to mention that bottled water is much more expensive than tap. This leaves us with reliable. Well, I have to agree with them there. They are reliable at delivering an unsafe, environmentally threatening product.
I hope that people aren’t easily tricked by IBWA’s ruse. IBWA’s version of the Story of Bottled Water is a particularly dumb story. They can tell us that consumers are changing their minds about bottled water and that they anticipate a successful fiscal year, but it’s more likely that they are covering up for the dwindling sales of bottled water from the past two years.