The principle of manufactured demand:
If you don’t have a market to sell to, then create one. Use fear and irrationality if necessary.
This is one of the first things I learned in my first (and only) business class…and apparently those at Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle all took the same class because they came up with the greatest manufactured demand scam of all time: bottled water.
The people over at The Story of Stuff put together a great video on the story of bottled water, covering manufactured demand, its toll on the environment and plenty of other interesting facts:
Why do people drink bottled water? Bottled water makes about as much sense as shipping in ice from Antarctica. Sure it is really convenient (and at sometimes even permissible) if you are out and about, but why do people drink it at home? This is something I will never understand. Bottled water costs 2000 times more than tap water!
“It tastes better.”
No, that’s your imagination and a bit of corporate trickery.
- It’s probably ice cold. Even liquor tastes like pure water ice cold.
- You probably just paid $2 for it, which automatically makes you want it to taste amazing.
- The bottle has pretty pictures on it – leading you to believe the water is purer than tap water.
- Try refrigerating your tap water.
- If that doesn’t help with taste, use a Brita pitcher.
- If that doesn’t help, put your filtered tap water into pretty reusable bottles and stick them in the fridge.
- If that doesn’t help, put $2 in the jar next to the fridge before you can take a bottle out.
- If that doesn’t help, seek therapy. Your brainwashing is deep :)
All joking aside, bottled water’s effect on the environment is even worse than its effect on your economics. For every bottle of water consumed, approximately 7 times the amount of water in the bottle was used during manufacturing and shipping. Also, the amount of oil used just to make the plastic water bottles would power 1 million cars for that year.
An overwhelming majority of these bottles are not recycled. The ones that do get recycled often end up getting shipped across the world where they will be ‘downcycled’ – turned into lower quality packaging that will be thrown away. Ideally, they would be re-made into water bottles again, but this is not the case.
The human factor
The worst part about this is that our waste now becomes another person’s problem (most likely a person in a developing country). People in developing countries already have enough problems with access to clean drinking water, and the plastic we ship to them is now leaching into their water supplies.
Our obsession with ‘pristine’ water is costing other people their right to safe drinking water. Let’s be real, we water our lawns with better quality water than most people in the world have access to…how is that fair?
Next time you reach for the bottle, think about the manufactured demand, think about the resources that went into that bottle, think about the people who will deal with your waste.
Friday, October 15, 2010 is Blog Action Day. This year’s topic is water. Share this post if you find it interesting, educational or amusing to help spread this year’s message.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons