Bottled water lashes back


Bottled water’s increasingly bad rap has Nestle, Danone, and Highland Spring bonding together to deflect the assault on their product by the likes of Alice Waters, Mario Batali, and Maury Rubin.  Following this year’s campaign encouraging consumers to drink tap water in restaurants, the corporations swiftly erected a glib counter-offense in the guise of the heroically named “Natural Hydration Council,” which aims to “research and promote the environmental, health and other sustainable benefits of natural bottled water.”  

“There is increasing chatter claiming bottled water is in some way bad,” claims Jeremy Clarke, the National Hydration Council’s new director.  “Some of that debate is misleading and much is just plain wrong.  It needs to be challenged.”  Sustainable sourcing and recyclable packaging form the backbone of the palaver.  “We need the council to undertake new research and communicate the facts to ensure fully informed consumer choices,” said managing director of Nestle Waters UK, Paolo Sangiorgi. The Natural Hydration Council is looking for a PR agency to handle its 2009 crusade.  It seems fairly incredible to me that people have jobs this pointless.

No one is arguing that bottled water is bad for you, exploitatively sourced or not made from recycled packaging.  But, from a common sense perspective, it’s kind of unnecessary when you live in a place where perfectly good water flows from the tap, isn’t it?

I’m in Ireland at the moment, drinking tap water, which in Connemara gets stained by peat.  It’s clean, but it’s yellow.  A group of American tourists sitting near me a few nights ago took one look at my glass and ordered a liter of Welsh water that came in a pretty cobalt bottle.  Whilst pouring, a shower of blue glass flowed out along with the bottle—the inside lining had somehow come loose.  Obviously, this was exceptional.  But all of a sudden, the bog water didn’t look so bad anymore.

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