Friday, August 24, 2007

"Position Papers"


I chuckled when I read some position papers from the IBWA recently. These are for the most part press releases designed to make the industry they serve look like heroes and protectors of their customers. I particularly like comments like this, taken from IBMA's response to San Francisco's mayoral ban on bottled water: Image from BrandChannel.com.
Bottled water is one of thousands of packaged foods and beverages used by consumers every day and bottled water containers are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system a local municipality has in place. Overall, the bottled water industry, like many others in the food and beverage industry, works to reduce its environmental footprint.
Nothing they say here is necessarily false, and one can certainly see how the industry could be stunned that they would be singled out for punitive action. At the same time, they're clearly shrugging off producer responsibility to the municipalities that are burdened with the collection of the used bottles. Where does that get us?

While waiting at the local Jiffy Lube while my fossil fueled mode of transport had its oil swapped, I noticed this article from Time Magazine's August 20th edition. It was a few months older than the article I commented about from Fast Company, but essentially said the same things; bottled water uses a heck of a lot of energy in its "manufacture" and delivery, not to mention disposal. In essence, this is a global luxury, some would say an indulgence. The marketers will say they are providing what the market desires, convenience and purity. Given the conventional economics worldview, with the environmental costs borne by others besides the bottled water manufacturers, aren't they behaving rationally?

What's a enviro-conscious consumer to do? Carry a good old fashioned refillable water bottle and use water fountains and taps. I have used drinking water from airports all over the country as well as various rest stops along the highways of the northeast without a hitch. Maybe its not as cool, or the flavor is not as crisp, but I'm well hydrated

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