The Most Controversial Bottled Water

by Michael Sheen


What You Can Do

  • Donate at givecleanwater.org to help Fiji residents acquire safe and clean drinking water 
  • Try to reduce bottled water consumption and always remember to recycle
  • Aim to support local drinking water sources. Find more information at https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/where-can-i-find-information-about-my-local-drinking-water-supply?qt-news_science_products=0#qt-news_science_products 

Branded as ‘Earth’s finest water,’ Fiji Water holds a standard of excellence and is one of the most expensive and well-known bottled waters in the world. Sourced from the tropical island of Fiji and coated with minerals and electrolytes from volcanic rock, the water is of the most pure, smooth, and natural form of water you can drink! Not only does the bottled water have extraordinary taste but its manufacturing also claims a pledge to sustainability: “As part of its longstanding dedication to environmental sustainability, FIJI Water launched a comprehensive plan to transform its use of plastic while promoting a circular economy” [1]. Due to its altruistic cause and most exquisite taste, a single 16.9 oz bottle costs $1.99 (an average water bottle costing $1.29) [2]. However, inside its fancy packaging and clever marketing schemes, Fiji holds a dark secret. The beloved bottle of water that many celebrities endorse emerges from exploitation of the environment and the people of Fiji.

The popular bottle available in aisles across the world originated in 1995 in a factory powered solely on diesel [3]. The company appears to care about sustainable practices and prides themselves with reducing their carbon footprint. However, statements from a press release reveal that their ‘comprehensive plan’ to offset 120% of emissions will not begin until 2037 [4]. For now, their method of importing foreign water to other countries remains an environmentally detrimental process. The long transportation process of taking water from Fiji to bottling the water in diesel-run facilities in China to being shipped to countries across the world is the complete antithesis of reducing carbon emissions [5]. According to a Fiji water quality report, researchers found that the production and transportation of one kilogram bottle of Fiji required 7.1 gallons of water, 0.26 gallons of fossil fuel and 1.2 pounds of greenhouse gases [6]. Additionally, the company also claims to find solutions that reduce plastic and aim to transition to recycled PET in the future. But, the creation of their specially square bottle that looks appealing to marketing contributes to even more waste production [3]. Consumers purchase and support Fiji Water thinking that they’re helping the environment when in fact the contrary is true.

Aside from its negative impact on the environment, Fiji Water have troubled and disregarded the residents of Fiji. The company holds the number one spot of an export in the country and its economic decisions strongly influences all the workers in Fiji [7].  For instance, in 2008 when the Fijian government pressured to raise taxes on the company, Fiji resolved the issue by laying off many workers from the country [3]. While the company operates in Fiji and marketed its water as fresh and from a natural source, about 12% of Fiji residents do not have access to clean drinking water [7]. Despite efforts from others, some residents of Fiji continue to lack a fully working water system and struggle to obtain safe drinking water. 

In general, purchasing bottled water from brands like Fiji is incredibly wasteful, with about 80% of the plastic ending up in landfills and taking years to decompose [8]. In the U.S. alone, people throw away a total of 60 million plastic water bottles with only 12% are recycled [8]. Plastic waste cannot biodegrade but has to rely on photodegradation, a process that takes at least 1,000 years for a single plastic bottle [8]. Try to reduce plastic consumption by installing a water filter and relying on local sources for water. 

Branding themselves as philanthropic and sustainable, Fiji Water appears to fight against carbon emissions and give to those who need safe drinking water. In reality, the company masks these false truths with advertising and branding schemes. In looking to conserve the planet and reduce pollution, it is essential that people support brands that actually aim for sustainability and not fall for the schemes of marketing. 


References

Image: https://miro.medium.com/max/960/1*glNJ4ODLsMCBRRKBiK0RSg.jpeg

[1]https://www.fijiwater.com/pages/the-water

[2]https://www.drinkflowater.com/blog/the-real-cost-of-bottled-water-2/#:~:text=The%20average%20plastic%20bottle%20of,factors%20to%20increase%20the%20price.

[3]https://www.mashed.com/189793/the-truth-about-fiji-water/

[4]https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/15107-fiji-water-becomes-first-bottled-water-company-to-release-carbon-footprint-of-its-products

[5]https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/fiji-water-sued-greenwashing/

[6]https://www.ukessays.com/essays/english-language/a-report-on-the-fiji-water.php#:~:text=Green%20researchers%20found%20that%20the,Greenhouse%20Gases%20(1.2%20pounds)

[7]https://www.npr.org/2010/12/01/131733493/A-Bottled-Water-Drama-In-Fiji

[8]https://healthyhumanlife.com/blogs/news/plastic-water-bottle-pollution-plastic-bottles-end#:~:text=It%20takes%20up%20to%201%2C000,bottle%20of%20water%20to%20decompose.