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...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Water World

During my recent jaunt to Starbucks, my eye wandered to the pastries vitrine near the register, during checkout.

Looking downwards, I saw plastic bottles with labels I didn't recognise.

And I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur regarding bottled water, too.

"Oh, if you love bottled water, you'll love Ethos Water", said the Starbucks assistant, sounding as ever like a chipper, articulate college undergrad, which is precisely what most are.

Starbucks is to the fast food world, what the Nobel Prize is to award schemes. Better to express coffee, than to flip a burger, any day.

"Ethos Water?", I asked.

"Here, let me get you the brochure."

Now, it's not often one buys bottled water and one gets a brochure to explain why doing so is a good idea. I gave it an immediate once-over.

Sure enough, it was bottled water with a cause attached -- all the rage this year, after the 2004: Year of the Cause-Bracelet.

"I'm not a particularly green or cause-driven person", I fibbed.

Hey, I recycle.

"Well, maybe you will be after reading it", she said off-handedly, reaching under the counter for the brochure.

I was vastly amused by her sensible, soft-spoken challenge.

So I walked out of Starbucks 3 dollars lighter, but infinitely more quenched, and feeling more ethical since that time I told on myself for magic markering my mother's shoes.

With a little happy research, I've been able to assemble a few bottled water brands which have a cause or ethics-purpose attached to their sales.

You'd be surprised how many are out there, combining H20 molecules with good old-fashioned, BoBo social conscience chic.

Implied message?

Water is good for you. And for others. Literally.


Official Tagline: Every Bottle Makes a Difference
Description: Ethos™ Water takes a unique approach to doing business -- it is the bottled water that helps children around the world get clean water. It's a powerfully simple concept...Water for Water.
Price: U$ 2.95

I took an immediate swig of Ethos Water as I left the coffeshop. Tasted a bit sour, but citrusy.

Not the best water I ever drank, perhaps, but think of all the little children you're helping with each quaff!

That's when I saw this teensy blurb on the Ethos Water flyer.

"Every time you purchase a bottle of Ethos water we will contribute 5 cents toward our target goal of raising at least $10 million over five years."

A nickle? Over 5 years? I spent 3 bucks on this water.

I bet you some Starbuck joints take in 10 million dollars a day, alone, in Madison, Wisconsin -- BoBo capital of the world!

Come on. What a rip.


Unofficial Tagline: It's Chicken Soup for your Soul, Dollink
Description: Kabbalah Water comes from very pure springs and has been imbueded [sic] with Ancient Kabbalistics [sic] Meditations. You can get it at any of The Kabbalah Centres.
Price: U$ 8.00

This is great.

Franchised, illiterate, Quasi-Jews profitting from God's nature. And I thought we Catholics had cornered that market!

Far be it for me to question Madonna, both for her business acumen, or for doubting her claim that Kaballah Water had cured Guy Ritchie's verrucas, but 8 dollars a pop is a bit much just to get rid of some wart.

However, when you see the powerful physics which goes behind every droplet, you can see 8 bucks is really NASA chump change comparatively.

It seems Kabbalah Water is culled from the springs of Canada, after having been blessed by a rabbi -- this actually reworks its molecular structure, making it into "dynamic 'living' water"...

...you know, as opposed to that horrid, comatose liquid crap we non-enlighteneds drink out of the tap.


Look, I just want to eat my knishes in peace, is that so wrong??


(As Seen on Mel Gibson's Film The Passion)

Official Tagline: Thirst Quenching Holy Water From A Natural Spring
Description: Holy Spring Water™ is 100% pure natural spring water, that tastes great and has been blessed by a Monk, a Catholic Priest, as well as Holy Shaman. Holy Spring Water™ washes away the sins of anyone feeling "less then saintly".
Price: U$ 6.95/carton (6 pack), U$16.95/case (4x6 packs)

Now, I know what you're thinking.

Come on, Vic. This is a wind-up. You can't believe this is a serious company.

But I did!

I even went so far as to Add the Items to my Cart. I was going for the six-pack to cure my verduras. Lettuce is harder to get rid of than you think.

Just when I was about whip out my credit card, the site launched this blurb:

"God knows everything, so we don't need your address and we don't need your credit card number. Thank you for your order."

Damn skimpy.

So remember that when you order your Kabbalah Water, Madonna. Or should I say Esther?

No. Actually, you're a Mark.


Official Tagline: The Gift of Water
Description: Each time you buy One, you're helping someone in a country where water may be a matter of life and death. All profits of One, every last drop, go to charities that specialise in water and sanitation projects overseas. It is not about lifestyle water, it's about life saving water.
Price: £13.20 for 24 500 ml bottles, delivery costs extra

Finally. This is what Water with a Cause should be about.

Not only was One the official water of the Live8 and Make Poverty History events, but it actually has a verifiable charity it is helping in South Africa.

Roundabout is a charity which installs water pumps in African villages.

No word if One is available for retail in the US yet, but in the UK in 2004, One Water sales topped £1.2 billion.

I have no way of checking if every last penny went to those targetted, but God willing, it did.

Making fun of some 40-something, has-been singer is one thing.

Making fun of kids who play in, live near and drink polluted water is quite another.


Official Tagline: Drink Frank & Be Part of the Solution
Description: FRANK is a non-profit, natural spring water. FRANK aims to supply the UK’s demand for bottled water in a socially responsible way – by giving all the profits to clean water projects around the world.
Price: ?

Maybe it's the tagline "Be Part of the Solution" which puts me off, seeing as how it remind me of Hippies, and if there is anything that really puts my nose out of joint, is Hippies, but Frank Water leaves me dry.

Be Part of the Solution automtically puts your back up, since if you don't purchase it, you are a "Part of the Problem", as that arch-hippy slogan would have it.

Someone pass me the LSD. (Not you)

Now, compare One Water's site above to Frank's Water, for example.

One Water has clear, non-preachy goals, which appeal to your conscience, yes, but also to your reason.

They also clearly place the price of the water on the site.

Frank's Water site is a barrage of Q&A's, which you have to click on, to read and inform yourself about.

No pricing is available, with only a snatch line about it hailing from the beautiful Devonshire Hills.

I've been to Devonshire. It's creepy.

So is this site.

It's good that they are helping Kothapeta village in India to get clean drinking water (target £50,000), but they seem very fly-by-night and idealistic, which doesn't translate to a sound, reputable impression for this type of project.

And what is worse, I can't make fun of Madonna. Ugh.


Official Tagline: Promote Your Business with a Splash!
Description: With over 5 years of experience in the private label water business, the Crystal Beverage Company now has over 2000 satisfied clients in every state of the nation (and even a few in Mexico, Guam, and Japan).
Price: Depends on order size

So you say this is all "Very well, Vic, African villages, Indian huts. But I have my own cause I want to target!".

Well have I got a bottled water for you.

This private water company creates your very own label, with whatever name you want on it, allowing you to choose the bottle size and everything.

I don't know about you, but this is the perfect gift for me.

It appeals to the egocentric, AND to the charitable in me, and let's face it, they're both considerable.

I think I'll call it Madonna Water instead of Victoria Water, though.

No, wait! I'll call it Ashton Kutcher Water.

That'll really chap her Slatkin candles.


All you need to know about this charming gizmo, cleverly named the Waterex, is that it's a dehumidifier which literally produces water out of thin air.

A snip at just £1000 too!

Sadly, it's only available in the UK as yet, but no doubt, Madonna has one, next to her organic micro-juicer.

Even Kabbalahlists cannot live on water alone.

Related Sites

(Warning: Likely to Cause Nose Spillage)

Green Drinks
Hippy Shopper
Ethical Consumer


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