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February 18th, 2010

Two options for tap water at Vancouver Olympics: One is free, the other is Dasani

Image: javcon117

Metro Vancouver recently took on the task of promoting the consumption of tap water over bottled water and is now battling it out with Coca-Cola at the Olympic games.

As one of the Olympics biggest official sponsors, Coca-Cola, who claims their bottled water “doesn’t compete with tap water,” is of course throwing a huge tantrum over this reality: they are now going to have to compete with tap water. You know, the same tap water that they use to fill their Dasani bottles. Maybe Coca-Cola should just stick with making Coke instead of re-packaging tap water from the local bottling plant in Vancouver and trucking it in to the Olympics.

Not surprisingly, the Coca-Cola classic “we-can-be-green-too!” claim has been tossed out there by spokespeople clearly reaching for any claim of credibility with which to keep their eco-friendly claims afloat. They say their bottles aren’t wasteful because 80% of British Columbia’s plastic bottles are recycled into “other things.” Oh, other things! What kinds of other things? Polyester in China? And what are the implications and externalities of this process of turning a plastic bottle into a t-shirt? We’ve covered this in a previous post, and let’s just say there are quite a few. Also, why is no one asking what happens to that other 20%? It ends up in landfills, end of story. That 20% is still a lot.

Coke also argues that their bottled water will be available in convenient locations, while tap water is not always so easy to come by. This literally makes no sense, due to the prevalence of a late 19th century invention called indoor plumbing. Furthermore, the reality is that everywhere Dasani will be, so will Metro Vancouver’s tap

Image: rocket_ray

water stations. For instance, the city has created two “Live Sites” in downtown Vancouver where the public can gather to listen to live bands and watch Olympic events on giant video screens. Coca-Cola will be at both locations, selling products such as Dasani. Metro Vancouver will be there too–distributing free tap water.

We also applaud the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, who has promised to cease sales of bottledwater. Instead, they will offer steel water bottles, an alternative that will allow them to offset some of the lost revenue from bottled water sales without creating any additional waste. Here at Food & Water Watch, we love seeing initiatives like this and like Metro Vancouver’s, which help to reduce bottled water consumption and take back our taps.

Are you planning an event, and want to provide drinking water to attendees? Want to find out how to spare your event from the corporate chains of Dasani and Aquafina? Check out our guide here.

- Kelly Barrett, communications intern

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