There are a few legitimate reasons to drink bottled water. You might live somewhere where the water is unsafe, such as Sierra Leone. You might have some kind of piping problem in your building or neighborhood. Or you might be in the middle of a road trip and in a hurry. But for the most part, bottled water’s success as an industry seems to be driven by branding and powerful marketing.
There will always be a market for specialty waters like Evian and Pellegrino (which I confess to enjoying on occasion with my Ravioli) but the mass market brands, most of which are actually filtered tap water, are a relatively new and hugely growing phenomenon with consumers.
Champions of tap water, on the other hand, have been confounded by the popularity of bottled water. Threats of legal action, elaborate blog posting, questioning people’s intelligence, offering snarky re-usable bottles… It’s all done little to stem the popularity of a disposable plastic phenomenon that threatens to bury us all in waste.
But here’s an idea: maybe the problem is branding? The government of Venice, Italy seems to think so. They’ve re-branded their tap water with the name “Acqua Veritas,” given branded carafes to city residents, and embarked on a celebrity filled advertising campaign. Genio!
The NYTimes doesn’t yet say what the results have been, as the campaign is new. Still, you can imagine the reaction many people might have when offered an amazingly cheap new product, which magically comes from their kitchen tap, and is approved and endorsed by major celebrities – not to mention being far more thoroughly tested than most bottled brands. Now, the city just needs to sell re-usable bottles to go along with it and they’ll be in business – literally.
If American cities get a wind of this, it could spell real competition for the bottled counterparts in a manner that no legal action or common-sense consumer action campaign could do. Maybe Venice is really on to something.
(Via TreeHugger’s Warren McLaren)