Thursday, July 31, 2008

Being Ethical Isn’t Cheap

God gave the Devil a choice, or so the story goes, between Hell or Texas. The Devil chose Hell because he found the climate to be more moderate.

It's 8:00 AM and the temperature is pushing 80 and they're predicting a high for the day in the mid-90s. If you're going to be out in this kind of heat, particularly if you're going to be engaging in physical activity, you should make sure you have water so you don't become dehydrated. There's a local park that has a 2.25 mile exercise trail that's marked off in quarter mile segments. I'm partial to taking walks there but there are only a couple of spots with water fountains so it's a good idea to carry some bottled water. Based on taste, I'm partial to Aquafina which I buy in both 500 mL and 1 liter bottles. I mostly drink the smaller bottles but if I think I'm going to be out in the heat for an extended period of time I'll take one of the larger instead.

This week I needed to pick up more of the liter bottles so I headed to the store only to find that they needed to restock their Aquafina. Now I prefer Aquafina but I'm not a stickler for it so I surveyed my choices, Dasani or Ozarka. This was when I noticed a new brand on the shelves, Ethos Water. In case the name doesn't make it clear that this is an "ethical" choice, the label proudly declares, "Helping children get clean water." On the back of the bottle is a mission statement that says Ethos Water will donate 5 cents for every bottle sold to humanitarian water programs that help children around the globe gain access to clean water.

Here's the thing. Ethos Water, at least at the store I go to, is the most expensive bottled water on the shelf. It's 40 cents more than the next most expensive bottled water and 69 cents more than my usual choice of Aquafina. For that kind of money I'd better be getting the bottled tears of a virgin or some such but Ethos is just regular water.

Reason dictates that if I really want to help children and others get clean drinking water, it would be better to buy another brand and then donate the money I save directly to a humanitarian program of my choice rather than letting Ethos do the donating for me. After all, $6.90, the money I would save buying 10 bottles of Aquafina instead of Ethos, is a lot better than 50 cents, the money Ethos would donate if I bought 10 bottles of their product.

So I did a little research and it turns out that Ethos Water is owned by Starbucks and produced by PepsiCo (who also produce Aquafina). I also found out, and this is really interesting, that Ethos Water doesn't use recycled plastic in their bottles even though PepsiCo does use recycled plastic in its own bottles. So not only is Ethos Water expensive but it's also one of the more environmentally unfriendly bottled waters. Seems to me that Ethos Water isn't a very "ethical" choice no matter what they claim.

No comments: