Food: April 2010 Archives

 

April 3, 2010

How's this for cognitive dissonance? Keeper Springs is a brand of bottled water which donates all of its profits to environmental causes:
Welcome to Keeper Springs Fresh Mountain Spring Water-where all our after-tax profits are donated to the environment.

Keeper Springs is fresh mountain spring water bottled right here in the United States from a sustainable spring.

While our company encourages investment in public water supplies and minimizing the use of plastic bottles - and of course, maximizing recycling - we believe that bottled water is a permanent fact of our society and that ours is among the best. Our unique business proposition is, along with proudly selling great spring water, we will donate all of our profits toward providing our children with a clean and safe world to inherit.

Bottled water, of course, is a product which trades off a nontrivial environmental cost for a benefit which is mostly a matter of convenience (bottled water is in general no healthier than tap water). So there's an odd irony in a bottled water company which is devoted to helping clean up the environment. The rationale here seems to be that if you're going to drink bottled water, you might as well drink one made by an environmentally friendly company rather than some faceless megacorp. It's even possible that if the profits are spent properly, they will do more good than the environmental damage that drinking bottled water causes, though of course this is very hard to assess.

That's fine as far as it goes, but consider a counterargument: the guilt you feel over buying bottled water (you do feel some, right?) acts as a weak quasi-Pigouvian tax on bottled water. With that tax removed, you might buy more bottled water, which negates the argument that you were going to buy something anyway. I would also observe that Keeper Springs is spring water, not tap water. The people who make KS claim that their method of bottling is sustainable, but wouldn't it be even more environmentally friendly to just bottle purified tap the way that Dasani does.

UPDATE: Replaced the environmental cost link. The video was catchy, but, uh... tendentious.