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?