Plastic Water Bottles: How many will just say No.

Posted by: David Kiley on October 8, 2007

One thing has always, ALWAYS, been clear to me about the bottled water market. The market has been driven more by the inherent laziness of consumers than by any fear of the municipal water supply.

How ironic, considering all those people working out with bottles of water in their mitts.

The attraction is the handy size, and the fact that most of us are too absent minded to keep a reusable water bottle full of water in our briefcase, backpack or car. It is not because we doubt the quality of the water from our tap or the office cooler.

As public information mounts about the environmental havoc these ubiquitous bottles cause, companies who make huge profits on hand-held bottles of water are in a panic. Coca-Cola, Dannon, PepsiCo, Nestle.

Beverage Digest reports retail sales of bottled water (excluding vending machines and Walmart) grew only 9% this year compared with 16% in 2006. Explanations abound. For one, it seems people who are paying more for gas, mortgage payments and education are taking a harder look at how much they are paying for…water. It adds up, just like those lattes at Starbuck’s. But there does seem to be multiple factors eroding the growth of water, and one of those factors is the leading edge of green consumers choosing to refill water bottles instead of buying water.

According to water-filtration company Brita (owned by bleach giant Clorox), Americans discard 38 billion plastic water bottles per year, and it takes 1.5 billion barrels of oil to produce them.

Sounding just like the lobby it is, the International Bottled Water Association wants regulators and consumers to know that, before we get hysterical about water bottles, any attempt to regulate consumer packaging should address all categories, not just water bottles.

To which I say: why not start a new campaign with water bottles. Get people thinking about water bottles, and the thinking tends to spread to other parts of their lives.

Reader Comments

Stephanie Fierman

December 1, 2007 8:39 PM

Tappening (Tappening.com) is exactly the kind of campaign you describe!

Begun by marketing exec Mark DiMassimo of DIGO Brands and Eric Yaverbaum of ErichoPR, Tappening calls for everyone to send in a single empty water bottle (with a note inside to the Chairman of Coke, which I'm sure he loves) promising that the writer will stop drinking bottled water. Tappening also offers its own bottle that a person can fill with tap water and carry around: thereby fulfilling the "cool" need that some believe is filled by the bottled water brands.

Between the facts that the EPA regulates tap water better than the FDA regulate bottled - and to your point the waste is unbelievable (just CA throws away 3M water bottles every day!) this is becoming v difficult to ignore.

Take a look at Tappening.com and, shamelessly, I've written my own blog post on the campaign, which includes an exclusive interview with DiMassimo and Yaverbaum (http://stephaniefierman.com/stephanie-fierman-is-tappening-are-you.php)

Thanks,
Stephanie Fierman
www.stephaniefierman.com

Stephanie Fierman

December 2, 2007 9:48 AM

Tappening (Tappening.com) is exactly the kind of campaign you describe!

Begun by marketing exec Mark DiMassimo of DIGO Brands and Eric Yaverbaum of ErichoPR, Tappening calls for everyone to send in a single empty water bottle (with a note inside to the Chairman of Coke, which I'm sure he loves) promising that the writer will stop drinking bottled water. Tappening also offers its own bottle that a person can fill with tap water and carry around: thereby fulfilling the "cool" need that some believe is filled by the bottled water brands.

Between the facts that the EPA regulates tap water better than the FDA regulate bottled - and to your point the waste is unbelievable (just CA throws away 3M water bottles every day!) this is becoming v difficult to ignore.

Take a look at Tappening.com and, shamelessly, I've written my own blog post on the campaign, which includes an exclusive interview with DiMassimo and Yaverbaum (http://stephaniefierman.com/stephanie-fierman-is-tappening-are-you.php)

Thanks,
Stephanie Fierman
www.stephaniefierman.com

Sheila Amerson

December 14, 2007 4:16 PM

Just checked out the site Stephanie mentioned. I'd actually heard Yaverbaum speak years ago and one of his books we had to read for a marketing class I took at Harvard. What's brilliant about what he and his partner are doing (and someone must do a case study!) is that it is no different than Nalgene or P&G at all, except they are better at marketing. They basically adopted tap water as their shared client and are making the world a better place by effectively delivering a message. Two lifelong agency guys didn't wait for a client to call them. Wow! Pretty smart. If you want an education in how destructive bottled water is to our environment, check out their site. It's not even them telling the story. It's the mainstream media and there is plenty of it. So much for my Harvard education! I would never have thought of that! These guys should be environmentalists of the year.

Rhonda Janetsky

December 21, 2007 1:58 PM

WOW! Smart guys! That website is awesome!Wonder when Coke or Pepsi buys them and shuts them up? Don't sell! You'll let us all down!!!!

Kathryn Grayson

February 12, 2008 3:13 AM

Hey Dave, your article is right on. However, I disagree with one thing. I DO doubt the quality of the water from the tap, water cooler and bottled water. The February 2008 issue of the Reader's Digest has alot to say. Alot of the bottled water does come from public resources. And, not only is bottled water destructive to our environment but you would be horrified if you knew what was in the bottles. What could be more basic than the water you drink? Well, it depends on which water you drink. Available water has been severely compromised. Water as we know it will never be the same. Ionized alkaline water is the only answer. Ionized water alkalizes, hydrates, and detoxifies the body more effectively than any other substance It is not only the best water we can drink. it is the best substance you can put into your body. It could save your life... I would be happy to share my research by contacting me at waterlily.4life@yahoo.com. Also, add up the amount of money you spend on bottled water each month and make a donation so that other people can enjoy our quality of life.

Livan

March 18, 2008 4:09 PM

I LOVE TAPPENING and I LOVE MAGIC. Check out this VIDEO my Girlfriend and I made FOR TAPPENING. By the way they loved it and its being passed around a lot! Check out what the buzz is about!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWO_5lKVBAA

-Livan

Melody

April 12, 2008 10:54 PM

LAST WEEK I READ ABOUT TAPPENING.COM IN PEOPLE MAGAZINE - THEY HAD A SPREAD ON "GREEN" STUFF RELATED TO EARTH DAY (APRIL 22ND)...

THANKS TO THAT LITTLE BLURB ABOUT TAPPENING'S REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES, I'M NOW VERY INTERESTED IN THIS ISSUE. I'VE BEEN DRINKING TAP WATER FOR MANY YEARS AND IT'S GREAT THAT SOMEONE STARTED A WELL-DESIGNED, INTELLIGENT SITE TO SUPPORT IT.

SPREAD THE WORD: WWW.TAPPENING.COM

Mark Mollica

March 1, 2009 11:29 AM

I want to get involved, or create a large-scale movement aimed at banning plastic beverage containers. We must return to the "good old days" when we reused or discarded glass, tin and aluminum containers. The relatively new, but now all-pervasive use of plastic containers threatens our health, needlessly squanders resources and pollutes our planet. Remember milk and soft drink glass bottles? How the empty gallon and half-gallon milk bottles; the 6-16 oz. "pop" bottles were returned for deposit and reused? Even when discarded they posed no real environmental problems? As part of a green culture, we must return to those days. Now when one shops in the USA, glass bottles cannot be found on shelves anywhere. It's all plastic bottles. I have read that we trash as many as 60 million plastic berverage bottles each day?! Our landfills are brimming with plastic, we waste millions of gallons of oil making and transporting them; and now we are discovering that these plastic bottle may pose health risks to consumers as well?! Getting rid of bottled water is a start but only a start. We must do more. Why not go back to using glass bottles for all of our beverages? I work in the Dominican Republic where 12 oz glass bottle soft drinks can still be found. You know, what? It tastes better, too. How do I get involved? I am an executive in the resort real estate industry and used to practise law. Contact me, please. Sincerely, Mark Mollica

LivingLaVidaVerde

May 27, 2009 12:34 PM

I started selling glass water bottles on my green blog: www.livinglavidaverde.net once I found one that I enjoyed using. I believe in "better safe than sorry" and it tastes so much better!

Max

July 26, 2009 6:45 PM

I’m conducting a short survey to determine what consumers know about biodegradable bottles. It only takes a moment and doesn’t gather personal information.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=fktlqEFDW1aNgZgWodfrRA_3d_3d


Thanks.
Max
http://www.ensobottles.com

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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