A battle against bottled water has emerged in recent years, and college students around the U.S. have been campaigning to have bottle water banned from college campuses. Unsurprisingly, the massive bottled water industry doesn’t like it one bit.
The International Bottle Water Association (IBWA) has produced the following, rather patronizing, video putting forward its position. The video first mocks and attempts to trivialise student attempts at protesting about bottled water. It compares the campaign to protest movements such as civil rights, freedom of speech, anti-war protests, Darfur, tuition fee hikes, education funding cuts, and sweatshop labor. As Grist has pointed out, the list doesn’t include any environmental protests. Funny, that.
The IBWA also argues that bottle water is healthy, as it’s sugar-free, caffeine-free, and that bottled water makes up only .03 percent of the waster stream in the United States. That makes it seem like not much, but plastic bottles and containers make up the largest portoin of plastic waste, according to the EPA. In any case, anyone who has been outside in the world, near local waterways, beaches, parks, or anywhere people go really, knows “disposable” plastic drink bottles, including water, are a significant problem, right?
After all, how difficult is it to switch to carrying your own reusable water bottle around with you, instead of buying bottled water? Do you think the fact that the industry, which is a $10.6 billion a year (in 2010) industry, has quite a bit at stake here? No wonder they are trying to convince people to keep drinking bottle water. Mind you, it doesn’t look like they spent much money on the production of the video.
Of course, the IBWA ends with the whole issue being about freedom of choice. Cue tugging of American heartstrings, that always works, for everything, right? The IBWA president has said that “It’s not a tap water versus bottle water issue”, the industry just wants students to have the option. Ahhh, sweet freedom, tastes great.
What do you think about bottled water? Should it be banned, or the industry be restricted in some way; or should people be left to make their own decisions about whether or not to buy widely available bottled water? Would an environmental education campaign of some sort be a better way to go? Mind you, who would fund it sufficiently, given that it would be up against a multi-billion dollar industry?