Swobo’s Message to Nestle: Tap Water Is Tops

Sending a message in a bottle might conjure up all kinds of romantic notions about chance and opportunity, but it’s not a very effective way to communicate with another party. Much more effective is to print a message right smack on a bottle and send it through the US Mail. This greatly improves your chances of being heard.
That’s just what Swobo, a Sausalito, Calif.-based seller of bikes and bike accessories, is hoping you’ll do. Check out this water-bottle-slash-tool-for-social-change. For six bucks, you buy a water bottle for your bike (or for whatever). You probably buy a new bottle every once in a while, any way–after your current vessel springs a leak or looses its top or just gets too gross to drink out of anymore, right?

The idea here is that you’ll use the bottle as long as you care to and then once you’re done with it, you’ll attach appropriate postage to the bottle and drop it in the mail. Conveniently, the bottle is pre-addressed to Nestle Waters North America, seller of many brands of bottled water, including Arrowhead, Poland Spring and Re-Source (sold at Whole Foods, check out this post to learn more about Re-Source).
Why send an old bottle to Nestle? Because Swobo has also printed a snarky little message on the bottle that suggests that selling bottled water is not only a major rip-off to consumers but also a tremendous waste of natural resources.
It’s a pretty brilliant tactic, in my humble opinion. I wonder who makes the bottle itself, which Swobo claims is biodegradable and recyclable and made with recycled content. I’ve never seen another plastic product with all those claims. But that probably goes a long way toward explaining the $6 price tag.
It’s somewhat surprising to see negative reactions to the campaign posted in comments to a story that biking site BikeRadar ran on Friday. One reader accuses Swobo of greenwashing. In my opinion, that’s quite a stretch. But I also think that the life of a water bottle should be pretty darn long – I’ve had most of mine for a number of years – and I’d like to think Nestle would “get the message” a lot sooner than that.
What do you think?

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to www.mcoconnor.com.