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What is good about bottled water? Profits
The advertising industry has done an amazing job of misinforming and confusing the public. The goal
of advertising is to create unnecessary wants that are profitable while essential needs go unsatisfied.
The only good thing about bottle water in most of the world is that it makes good profits
for those that are producing, marketing and distributing the product. The cost and price
is astronomical compared to a potable water supply run for public good ... but, of course, even
this business model has been turned into a 'for profit' activity that aims to extract profit
rather to deliver social benefit. The water sector is critical to human society ... the
capitalist market economy is a business model that puts profit for investors first, when the
priority should be to have sustainable society first.
By Jaeah Lee ... Mother Jones
Mon Aug. 15, 2011 2:30 AM PDT
Why Bottled Water Companies Target Blacks and Latinos
Below, Chilli talks about making the Dasani ad with her son:
Over at Forbes, Nadia Arumugam writes that bottled water companies have been actively marketing
their products to minority groups, with ads targeting black and Latino mothers, and endorsements
from celebrities like TLC's Chilli and Hispanic TV host Cristina Saralegui.
Judging from a new study published by the American Medical Association, the PR push is working.
Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin found that Latino and African Americans are
more likely to give bottled water to their children, and spend up to twice as much of their
household income on bottled water as do whites. After surveying some 640 people they found
that Latino and African Americans are more likely to consume bottled water largely because
they view tap water as a health risk. From the study:
Beliefs about tap water safety and cleanliness, preference for bottled water taste, and perceived
bottled water convenience had the strongest association with the use of bottled water. Obtaining
information about tap water from environmental organizations was also associated with greater
odds of bottled water use.
Latinos and African Americans, the survey found, spent up to 12 and 16.7 percent of their
household income on bottled water, respectively, while white Americans spent up to 6 percent. The
racial/ethnic gap in bottled water consumption could be explained by 'actual differences in current
tap water quality,' the study notes, and survey responses supported this notion, finding that 'prior
experience is related to water choices.'
America's water system faces an annual funding shortfall of at least $11 billion, according to the
American Society of Civil Engineers. In their 2009 Report Card for American Infrastructure, the group
gave a disappointing D- for drinking water, arguing that the country's ability to prevent failure in
drinking-water systems and maintain them are inadequate. Disruptions in water delivery services 'can
hinder disaster response and recover efforts, expose the public to water-borne contaminants, and cause
damage to roadways, structures, and other infrastructure, endangering lives and resulting in billions
of dollars in losses.'
Such weaknesses might be more acute in rural and low-income communities. According to the US Census Bureau, Latino and African Americans together make up almost half of the US population living under the poverty line (PDF). The In 2004, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported that three in five African and Latino Americans live in communities that are also home to Superfund sites, which are prone to releasing toxins into nearby groundwater supplies (PDF). In a March 2011 case study of California's San Joaquin Valley, the environmental group Pacific Institute warned that the nearby communities' were likely drinking water contaminated with nitrates above EPA-sanctioned levels, likely coming from agricultural fertilizers. Those most at risk, the report found, were disproportionately low-income households and Spanish-speaking residents.
Back in 2007, three scholars from the University of Illinois argued in the journal Geoforum that such a disparity is often ignored because people tend to assume that the US provides universal access to safe drinking water. Not true, they say:
Contrary to reports of 100 percent access to safe water and sanitation in international surveys, the United States has a complex landscape of low-income water systems...The vast majority of urban and rural poor in the US do have access to water and sanitation. However, even cursory observation of poor areas in the US indicates residents who lack access to basic indoor water and plumbing. They include some among the urban homeless, migrant workers, residents of colonias along the US-Mexico border, and remote areas of Native American reservations...
You can't blame people for choosing bottled water when the tap water sucks. But unfortunately, bottled water comes with pretty serious environmental consequences. There's the obvious waste problem, to start. Somewhere around 2.4 million tons of polyethylene terephthalate plastic (commonly used for bottling drinks) is discarded in the US each year, and up to 41 percent of that comes from water bottles. Nor are bottled water companies the kind you'd want in your neighborhood. Mother Jones has reported extensively on Fiji Water's malpractices in particular, whether it's turning its cheek away from the island's oppression under the military junta, disregarding the local populace's lack of access to water, or burning its trash in nearby towns.
The underlying and perhaps most sobering threat here is that unsafe tap water, whether perceived or real, could be contributing to the financial burden on low-income communities. And if safe tap water were more widely available, maybe people wouldn't be so vulnerable to bottled water companies' marketing ploys, regardless of ethnicit
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