A friend recently pointed out that paying $1 a litre for petrol is nothing, when in the same service station you can pay up to $9 a litre for water. Why Australians would pay so much for something that comes out of our taps in abundance practically for free is a mystery. Particularly when billions of people don’t have simple access to clean water.
Bottled water brand One Water has just launched in Australia. Styling itself as Australia’s first ethical water brand, it donates all of its profits to charities and says that, by simply switching brands, people can make a real difference in places where people don’t have access to clean water.
One Water funds projects such as SkyHydrant, a water filtration system, and PlayPump which enables water to be pumped by using a child’s merry-go-round. The idea is simple and effective, and costs are kept down by leasing advertising space on the attached water tower. This immediately sets off dubious alarm bells, and I wasn’t surprised to see Coca Cola’s Environmental Affairs Manager quoted on the site. However, the water towers will also host health messages so perhaps all is well.
We are a poor school….no seesaws or exercise rings like the kind most children play with. Because of our water crisis, such things are not in our budget. But now the children have this merry-go-round, and both problems are solved.”
Sylvia Nkambule, teacher in Swaziland
The brand is well supported by minor Australian celebrities, such as Ruby Rose. The thinking behind the brand is that people who purchase bottled water will switch to an ethical brand. But it begs the question of the actual ethical problems associated with bottled water in the first place. It takes up to 6 litres of water to make one 1 litre plastic bottle and a large proportion of plastic bottles end up in landfill. While I applaud One Water for its ethical human commitment, I think the next step will be to ween people off their dangerous addiction to bottled water.