Coca-Cola for Clean Water?

I just wanted to highlight my recent confusion over Coca-Cola’s sustainability efforts. Namely:

  • Coca-Cola’s Commitment to the CEO Water Mandate: a program designed to help companies better manage their water use.


Though I applaud Coca-Cola’s apparent concern over the world’s water supply, I can’t help but contemplate the irony of their efforts. Surely Coke must be aware that it takes nearly two gallons of water to manufacture just one of their many plastic beverage bottles. Conservation? Good water management? Nice try, guys, but I can’t help but wonder if this is “greenwashing” at it’s best…

Readers, what do you think?

Ecowell: An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Vending Machines

Thanks to students, Brian Boler, Andy Whitaker and Reid Schilperoort, we can now officially say goodbye to vending machines full of plastic bottles. This team of entrepreneurs has managed to make reusable water bottles even more convenient with their recent class-project-turned-business-venture:

Ecowell. A vending kiosk that dispenses hot, cold or carbonated water with a choice of over 20 fruit juice flavors, two sweeteners and five vitamin supplements. This eco-friendly alternative to vending machines allows you to create your own beverage, dispensing it straight into your own reusable Klean Kanteen. None of the fruit juice flavors contain high fructose corn syrup, and the kiosk can dispense any combination of flavors, light or full, depending on your preference. Both of these features allow you to create a healthier beverage than those which are normally available in standard vending machines. Moreover, with Ecowell’s convenient Tap-Tag system, patrons can create an account right at the kiosk and use their Tap-Tag to select and pay for their drinks at each visit. Ecowell is a great invention for office buildings and schools where bottled water and soda are consumed on a regular basis.

Beverages ordered and filled at the Ecowell kiosk are less expensive than the average bottle of water, juice or soda purchased from a conventional vending machine. A 16-oz. cold glass of purified water is $0.55. Add three fruit flavors and pay only $1.50. Considering that a Vitamin Water is usually at least $1.75, and a Snapple beverage can cost around $2.50, students and workers are getting a great deal for a customized, healthy, eco-friendly beverage. For example, instead of buying a Focus Kiwi-Strawberry Vitamin Water, you can simply create your own mix of fruit-flavored water and add the “StudyBoost” vitamin supplement for added focus and retention.

Ecowell truly leaves the consumer with no excuses to drink bottled water. At home, you can make your own flavored water with the PUR flavor options pitcher or PUR faucet mount with flavor options. With the Ecowell kiosk, now you can make your own flavored water and even soda. This new invention might just make more schools consider banning bottled water.

IBWA Settles Multiple Lawsuits

As we know from previous posts, the International Bottled Water Association has made multiple efforts to save face in the wake of environmentalist criticism. Two recent lawsuits, one against Eco Canteen, and one against ZeroWater, may be the organization’s most desperate attempts yet. In fact, these might even deserve a spot next to Nestle Waters as some of the most ridiculous lawsuits of all time.

IBWA has accused both companies of making “false and misleading claims” in their advertisements. These include the claim that plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals like BPA that leech into water, or that bottled water is unsafe and the act of recycling single-use bottles releases toxic substances into the environment. IBWA was victorious in its lawsuit against Eco Canteen, a distributor of reusable, stainless-steel water bottles. ZeroWater, maker of a 5-stage ion exchange water filter, has agreed to settle peacefully by retracting any and all false claims.

Perhaps the IBWA simply can’t handle all of the bad press it has received from bottled water critics – which could explain their recent back-to-back release of several online videos that advocate bottled water as a “safe and healthy alternative.” While it is certainly an alternative to less healthy sugary beverages, some might argue that the presentation of bottled water as “safe and healthy” in and of itself is just as “false and misleading” as some of the advertising claims made by the defendants in both lawsuits. A quick glance at our list of the “Top 10 Most Disturbing Things in Our Water” reveals that not all bottled water is as “safe and healthy” as  companies claim. (Pay special attention to #5 and #1 on this list, and you’ll see what we mean.)

In defense of the IBWA, it is true that the claims made by ZeroWater and Eco Canteen were indeed misleading. Though BPA and phthalates are used in the manufacture of many reusable plastic bottles, they are not contained in the single-use varieties.  Moreover, not all bottled water is unsafe or unhealthy, and it is certainly healthier than soda. Still, we can’t discount the negative environmental effects of the tons of plastic waste that go unrecycled each year – of which, single-use plastic water bottles are a part (albeit small). Nor can we ignore the ridiculous costs associated with this supposedly more convenient product. Bottled water is expensive, and in many cases is nothing more than purified tap water – a natural commodity that can easily be obtained from the kitchen sink with the use of a faucet water filter, or a reverse osmosis filter, if you’re looking for more advanced filtration. It’s not rocket science; mere common sense will persuade the average consumer that filtered tap water is a safe alternative that is both tasty and eco-friendly.

Frankly, such desperation on the part of the IBWA just makes me sad. Who’s next? Annie Leonard?