This is now the second time in a few months that I’ve gotten the following piece of junk mail:
This letter is advertising a promotion in which, for thirty-two dollars a month and up, I can pay to have bottled water delivered to my door. What a brilliant idea! How could you beat that for convenience?
Oh, that’s right:
Instead of paying for Poland Spring water at the rate of about $1.64 per gallon, I could get clean, fresh, drinkable water of any temperature I please straight from the tap in my kitchen. I don’t know exactly how much this costs me, but I can say with complete confidence that it’s a lot less than a dollar per gallon.
Clearly, Poland Spring doesn’t want you to think too hard about the economics of this. However, for the environmentally conscious consumer, this mailing also has a page touting their green credentials:
Recycling 900,000 bottles and keeping 1.8 million pounds of plastic out of landfills is certainly very impressive. But, the skeptic in me has to ask, wouldn’t it be much better for people to just use their perfectly good existing public infrastructure for drinking water, and not have to manufacture all that plastic in the first place?
The bottled-water industry is one of the great triumphs of modern marketing: creating demand for a product for which there’s absolutely no genuine need, selling at exorbitant cost a substance which any person in the Western world can obtain virtually for free. Even more absurd, despite its imagery of glaciers and mountain springs, most bottled water comes from municipal sources – i.e., the same water you get from your tap anyway.
What bottled water really represents is almost pure profit for the beverage conglomerates that sell it, and unnecessary environmental harm caused by the expenditure of fossil fuels needed to manufacture, pack and ship it (not to mention sending out all this junk mail touting it). It’s no healthier than the water that comes from the tap in your house. It doesn’t even taste better. What on earth could convince a person to pay money for a scheme as ridiculous as this?