Fiji water bottle on sandy beach

Awareness of the needless harms of plastic bottles is increasing—so why, in 2020, is bottle consumption rising too? It’s high time we turn to a less harmful source of drinking water.

Remember that late 2000s icon, Fiji Water? Found in the hands of Kardashians and Obamas alike, it often topped the list of most popular imported water in the US. It turns out those little square bottles with their aura of thirst-quenching paradise, so carefully designed to generate brand identity, are environmental monsters. According to Mashable, every Fiji Water bottle is a tiny yet needless middle finger to our global pollution problem: “To make the plastic, transport the bottle to stores, and address the waste, is the equivalent of filling up every bottle a quarter of the way with oil.” Hmm. Refreshing.

Cigarette ad from the 50s

Chesterfields. So much milder than those other nasty cigarette brands (source: Nesster, CC by 2.0)

Of course, Fiji Water is not the only example of a trendy bottled water brand hiding its true nature behind an earth-loving facade. Every few years, a different imported water seems to take off in popularity nationwide. Norwegian label Voss, with its own distinctive bottle design, is a recent example. But no matter the bottled water currently in vogue, you can rely on these products to market themselves with a heavy dose of hypocrisy. There’s a consensus in the current body of research on the real benefits of the bottled water industry: basically, that there aren’t many. As a result, brands are left to promote themselves based on thin lifestyle aspirations, stylish bottles, vague health or wellness claims, and by one-upping their competitors. Tactics that make for an unflattering comparison between today’s bottled water marketing campaigns and the heyday of tobacco propaganda.