Water Bottle Guilt (Now with Diagrams!)

January 10, 2008 at 5:38 am | Posted in Advertising, Collective Responsibility, Communication, Decision making, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Personal Responsibility, Responsibility, Usability | 5 Comments
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Updated: Welcome Fast Company readers! If you like the post below, don’t forget to subscribe. Enjoy!

This morning I was reading an insightful post at the QualityWriter.com blog where Phil mentions the new Starbuck’s ethos ad. Basically, for every couple of bucks they make selling this water, Starbuck’s will give a nickel to a poor, starving kid (examples Kebede and Abu found here).

I’m not going to comment on the usual rant material here. I find giving money to poor kids generally good, Starbuck’s and their ads generally so-so, and the taste of their coffee pretty damn awful. That aside, I did want to comment on the recent trend of water bottle guilt.

Fast Company details all of the stomach-churning, mind-boggling details in the cleverly named Message in a Bottle article from this summer. But the gist is this: a whole bunch of people thought they were doing good by switching from soda (“pop,” if you will) to water. Everybody felt good and felt better about themselves, too. Only after a couple of years and a huge increase in the water business, did we question all of the plastic bottles we were throwing away. All this while tension in the middle east rose and wars started and “oh yeah!” that plastic is not only clogging our landfills on the back-end, but it’s a petroleum product to start out with!

Hey, I’m not blameless. We recycle, but I’ll still buy water from time to time. But the sheer guilt that is growing at an exponential rate is what I’m fascinated in. The problem has a lot of angles – the environment, oil and global politics, waste in a country of plenty, the blur between what we need and what we want – so I thought we could use a little visual assistance. Though it is positively not comprehensive, I put together a venn diagram of sorts to being to plot the aspects of water bottle guilt (both the diagram and this post are positively facetious, however).

It features Kebede (or is that Abu?) in the middle of our messy little problem. In what way do you feel guilty about the burgeoning water bottle crisis and its effect on humankind? Click on the image below for some ideas:

Guilt 2 200×200



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  1. Hilarious graphic! We’re a R/O household here… as in Reverse Osmosis (like the kind used on circumnavigation/crusing boats). Cheap, contientious, convenient, and doesn’t drive the rational mind crazy. It goes from the RO contraption into our fridge and out the cool spout next to the ice ejector. We use some plastic bottles, but mostly RO from the fridge, filling up old plastic bottles when needed. The Ethos project does seem to be trading one solution for another problem. Such a confusing, guilt layered world we live in.

  2. Great post! I always have water bottle guilt and yet have an “Ethos” bottle on my desk right now. I’ll have to work on that.

  3. What about this campaign to send Coke 1 million used water bottles:

    I would like to send Coke my empties, too. And then I’m going to send the New York Times my old newspapers.

  4. […] I started challenging the way I was doing it. I ran across another blog entry this morning about Water Bottle Guilt (with entertaining diagram!), which reminded me I GOTTA blog about […]

  5. Yes, 11 billion dollars were spent in the US on water bottles this past year. Can you imagine the landfills? It has also become clear that water can become contaminated by the plastic bottle that it’s in… So, yes, admission to guilt is not enough to exorcising our responsibility, unless we feel we have no alternative.
    My desire to find a solution a solution was such that I found a way out. http://www.discoverthewater.info
    Imagine now that you will never have to lug heavy water bottles again and that your water is also alive with minerals, not just dead water like Reverse Osmosis, which robs your body of the minerals on its way out. Do something about it – find out at http://www.discoverthewater.info

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