The bottled water industry, fighting back against accusations that they are a significant contributor to environmental degradation, has released this magical video of glorious greenwashing, redolent of the famous video news releases in which Karen Ryan pretended to a journalist while promoting the Bush White House's "No Child Left Behind" Act.
The New York Times's Sindya N. Bhanoo reports that this video, sent out by the International Bottled Water Association, is a direct response to Annie Leonard's The Story of Bottled Water (which you can read more about here). In the video, the IBWA touts the manufacturers of bottled water as "good stewards of the environment." It features blissed-out coffeehouse acoustic guitar music, bucolic scenes of nature and a pretend reporter from pretend outfit "BWM Reports" pretending to pose pretend questions in pretend journalistic settings. The unnamed interlocutor serves up softballs, and happily nods along, like the Liz Glover Of Corporate Evil.
But hey, here are some fun facts, from Ashley Braun, at Grist:
1. So few plastic water bottles, too often touted as "recyclable," actually are recycled, which is a nod to the dismal availability of public recycling opportunities in mainstream America, among other things (PDF). The EPA reported that 2006 rates of recycling for plastic HDPE milk & water bottles hobbled up to 31 percent. The overall national recycling rate doesn't look much better at a whopping 32 percent (2006).
2. That whole "landfilling" thing: plastics make up at least 11 percent (by weight) of municipal solid waste landfills (PDF). That's not even taking into consideration the plastics' volume and light weight.
3. A titanic 40 percent of that "pure spring water" Americans are chugging (and dropping a cool $15 billion/year on) is actually from the kitchen faucet. At least tap water is strictly and frequently tested for purity and safety, which leads to my next point.
4. The other 60 percent of bottled water is pulled from uncharted, or at least untested, waters. According to a four-year study of bottled water by the NRDC, the FDA exempts "60-70 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States from the agency's bottled water standards, because FDA says its rules do not apply to water packaged and sold within the same state." Even when not exempt, the rules are usually weaker than EPA drinking water standards for tap water.
5. Production of plastic water bottles requires three times the water the bottle will eventually hold. That's not even getting into the 17 million barrels of oil or the 2.5 million tons of CO2 resulting from plastic bottle production.
6. And finally, the bottled water industry is literally draining the Great Lakes, which hold 95 percent of the U.S.'s surface freshwater. Even a Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (PDF), signed by eight Great Lakes states' governors and two Canadian provinces' premiers, allows for the unlimited removal of Great Lakes Basin water "in any container of 5.7 gallons (20 litres) or less" (Applicable Use #9, Article 207).
I did really enjoy the music, though! And at the end of the video, these words appear on the screen: "Free Music From: Music4YourVids.co.uk." So, woo! Production value!
On battling (plastic) bottled-up rage [Grist]
World Water Day Webcast With Annie Leonard And Elizabeth Royte [Tune in tonight, March 23, 8pm]
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST
Annie Leonard: The Story of Bottled Water: Fear, Manufactured Demand and a $10,000 Sandwich
Johann Hari: My New Year's Resolution is to Lose my Bottle -- and Quit the Coke