Posted by: waterworks | November 5, 2007

Water Miles (1)

Back in 2004, the excessive water miles clocked up by bottled Fiji Water led to the UK Food Commission singling the product out as an especially ‘ludicrous’ example of unnecessary importing. A spokesperson suggested that ‘all these bottled waters mean extra trucks on the road, extra fuel use and extra carbon dioxide emissions, when consumers could simply turn on their taps’. Fiji Water is shipped 10,000 miles from the Pacific island state to be sold in UK stores such as Waitrose. Not to mention the US, Canada and Australia. 10,000 miles is certainly a long way to transport something that is available freely from taps in these countries. Another long journey then awaits the discarded bottles – one that will most likely end at a recycling plant in China. Waitrose’s decision to stock Fiji Water is, at first glance, a queer one. Here is a use of the earth’s resources that seemingly flies in the face of plain common sense – and is clearly at odds with sustainability rhetoric. However, Fiji Water’s website offers a robust justification for the product’s continuing presence on supermarket shelves:

There’s no question about it: Fiji is far away. But when it comes to drinking water, “remote” happens to be very, very good. Look at it this way. Fiji Water is drawn from an artesian aquifer, located at the very edge of a primitive rainforest, hundreds of miles away from the nearest continent. That very distance is part of what makes us so much more pure and so much healthier than other bottled waters.

One further claim is made that ‘our rainfall is purified by equatorial winds after travelling thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.’  Just how the equatorial winds carry this neat trick off is perhaps best left to meteorologists to explain. Fiji Water is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur David Gilmour who also runs a resort on Fiji where 200 staff cater for a maximum of 18 guests (of the Bill Gates income bracket). Gilmour’s product is hailed as ‘virtuous’ by Waitrose – presumably because it brings much-needed employment to the islands, as well as economic diversification, all of which is fair enough. However, there is an unhappy tension growing between the continuing need of poor people to find work in export industries – and the emerging consensus that more needs to be done to source food and drink locally, thereby reducing non-essential food and water miles.

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  1. […] water brand Fiji Water has often been singled out for harsh criticism by consumption conchies (conscientious objectors) on […]


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