Home > Uncategorized > Ethos Water: charity profiteering

Ethos Water: charity profiteering

October 13, 2009

This just gets funnier the more I look at it.  Apparently Starbucks has their own brand of socially-responsible consumer stuff, including bottled water that helps photogenic kids in Africa and other approved impoverished places get clean water.  Introducing: Ethos Water! Yea!

I couldn’t copy any text from their extremely slick Flash website, but it says that every time you buy a bottle of Ethos water, they’ll “commit grant money” towards a water project.  By next year, they want to raise $10 million.  Wow! That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

You wanna be socially responsible, don’t you? Don’t you care about clean water?  Here’s a hint: bottled water is environmentally horrible.  It takes something like 6 litres of water just to fill one bottle, and it’s thousands of times more energy-intensive than your cheap, clean, safe tap water.  That carbon footprint contributes to global warming which is going to drown or starve those cute poor people.

But that Starbucks’ Ethos Water is crazy expensive.  Aren’t they donating money to clean-water projects?  You bet they are: five cents a bottle.

Come to think of it, maybe it isn’t so funny. 

So try this – find a bottle you like, and refill it from the drinking fountain.  Each time you refill the bottle, put a quarter in an box and at the end of a year, take the coins to the bank and send a check directly to a water-development charity.  You’ll be a water-charity superhero, by comparison.


  • I saw the bottle above in our lab, and just had to grab a pic for you.  There’s more pictures for your enjoyment in my new FAIL Picasa collection.
  • One number that popped up repeatedly as I researched this post was that US consumers snorked down eight billion gallons of bottled water last year.  That sounded like too much to be true, and it works out to an improbable-sounding 42 billion bottles, but that’s only 121 18oz bottles per person per year, which is entirely possible.  Or maybe it’s too late in the day for me to grapple with numbers like that, so feel free to check my math.  Anyway, it’s a HELL of a lot of plastic.

  • Effect Measure has an interesting discussion of the tangled, ineffective web of regulation of drinking water on airplanes  Apparently it gets tossed back and forth among the EPA, the FAA, and the FDA, with the result that it fails coliform standards without any real consequence.  But you can’t bring your own water on board, no sir.  That might be a security risk.
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Ray
    October 14, 2009 at 06:50 | #1

    but that’s only 121 18oz bottles per person per year, which is entirely possible

    But is it? Well, I suppose all it requires is for one-third of the population to quaff one bottle per day, so I guess that’s feasible.  How depressing.

    Figures like these always make me stop and think – people watch seven (or whatever the number is) hours TV each day; on average we all consume 64 pounds of sugar per year.  When I consider the amount of these things my own family indulges in, then it’s clear there must be people watching TV all day long while they spoon sugar into their mouths. At first you think it’s impossible, but then you consider the people you know who have TV in every room, constantly turned on. And you read the ingredient list for, say, a loaf of “bread” and find that sugar (HFCS) is second in the list. And then you realise that there are people out there making up for what you yourself don’t consume. It’s scary.

  2. October 14, 2009 at 07:19 | #2

    Those Starbucks folks, protectors of the environment and the poor.

    The water in Falmouth is tasty, and I drink it gladly all summer right out of the tap.

    The water in Sanford is foul-tasting (a pretty much universally held view), and I basically don’t drink it. No, I drink nice chilly water out of a Brita pitcher (haven’t tried the Pur version).

    As for bottled water, it’s rare for me to drink it, and would usually be out and about and thirsty, with no other real options handy (I admit that I’d have to be desperate to drink out of a public water fountain).

  3. October 14, 2009 at 17:25 | #3

    Putting a water filter on a kitchen faucet, or getting one of those filter pitchers, will eliminate most of the uses one might have for bottled water. I buy the stuff, because if I’m traveling or on the road it’s often better than trusting tap water, but I don’t use anywhere near 120 bottles a year.

  4. October 14, 2009 at 19:01 | #4

    Bottled water used to only be used for those absolutely needing it like hikers and such. I wonder how we got from there to here.

    As a funny aside, does anyone know what Evian (one of the early bottled water companies) spells backwards?

  5. October 14, 2009 at 19:34 | #5

    P.T. Barnum has reincarnated as Howard Schultz.

  6. October 15, 2009 at 13:31 | #6

    I don’t shop at Starbucks for anything. If I’m away from home, and can’t find another source for a morning coffee (well, you know, “candy” coffee with milk and flavor, like unto a latte), I just skip it.

    Starbucks has been caught making employees who receive tips fork over some of that money to managers.

    Their cups of coffee are stupid expensive.

    They taste burnt to me.

    And now they want to teach me ethics.

  7. October 15, 2009 at 14:51 | #7

    Gerry:  Theres a reason it’s often called Charbucks.

  8. October 15, 2009 at 23:03 | #8

    What they’re saying is, they believe their customers are idiots.  Well-intentioned idiots, but idiots all the same.

    Too bad so many of them are…

    I shall be pointing out this piece to anyone who thinks they’re saving the world by spending gargantuan amounts of money on fancy water.

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