We’re not going to blame you if you take something like water for granted, especially with a pandemic raging and a combative election just ahead. But we are going to try to change your mind. As an increasingly precious resource often harvested from sensitive natural environments, it pays to know where you’re money is going when you look to hydrate.
Some companies, like Nestle (Arrowhead, San Pellegrino, Perrier, etc.), have been increasingly under fire for draining natural springs and failing to take sustainability into account. This is especially troublesome in the American West, where climate change is already taxing local water supplies. Cities and environmental groups continue to battle the giant, along with other massive companies, to preserve natural areas and vital natural water arteries.
How does one hydrate ethically? Honestly, the best thing you can do from an environmental (and often socio-political) standpoint is have your own reusable bottle with you and simply fill wherever possible. The majority of municipal water sources are safe and don’t require added packaging. Yet, sometimes you need a preset container of refreshing water. Generally, it’s good to avoid plastic. The amount of fossil fuel alone required to make the containers is concerning. Look for glass and better still, paper-based vessels or those made from recycled materials (which includes plastic but look to make sure).
Tempting as a $60,000 bottle of Acqua di Cristallo is (it comes in an actual gold bottle), you don’t need that. Instead, look for brands that take some environmental ownership and plug along in a way that have a more moderate effect on planet Earth, if any. Here are some of the best brands to look out for:
With Will Smith backing the enterprise, Just Water was probably always destined for success. It has become immensely popular, built around a mostly plant-based container. As the website suggests, the company appears to acknowledge that water is in fact scarce and worth protecting. As such, Just Water claims to pay six times the going rate for water, to reinforce the inherent value and set a precedent for other brands. Much of the water comes from springs in Glen Falls, New York.
With its milk carton-looking packaging, Boxed Water has fully embraced the paper route. In addition to boxing its water in mostly recycled containers, the company routinely engages in tree plantings and beach cleanups. The company is raising environmental awareness through campaigns like the no-plastic pledge and engaging in innovative filling programs that position water supplies throughout the country to limit shipping impacts. The company launched more than a decade ago in Michigan and has since found placements all over.
Hawaii’s Waiakea is certified carbon-neutral, pulling water mainly from one of the wettest parts of the Big Island. The water goes to plastic but the company does use 100% RPET (recycled polyethylene terephtalate) for all of its bottles. It’s also powering a decent part of its operations with renewable energy, including geothermal energy. Presently, a third of its power comes in that way and hopefully that figure will only increase. As removed and relatively untouched as this part of Hawaii is, it’s not entirely surprising that the company claims to express terroir through its bottled water. You’ll have to taste for yourself to see.
Iceland is full of teeming springs and, as a country, is powered primarily by geothermal energy. That makes it a pretty solid candidate for a water brand. Icelandic Glacial launched about 15 years ago and has since received high environmental marks, even after ABV-InBev purchased a significant stake in the company in 2007. The containers and labels are made of recycled materials and the company was the first of its kind (and scale) to be named carbon-neutral. More alternative and environmentally friendly formats are set to release in 2021 and the company is quite transparent in displaying its various certificates and third-party accreditations on its website.
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