January 18, 2022
Melinda Head

Bottled Water Culture

Pure Marketing … Pure Genius

We are mostly made of water – 55-60%, in fact. Water brings nutrients to our cells, allows us to excrete waste and regulate body temperature, and is a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord among other important functions. Yup, water is vital. No water, no you, nada.

Bottled water sales in the U.S. amounted to $15 billion in 2020.  

In 2020, the per capita consumption of bottled water in the U.S. was about 45.2 gallons (or 342 16.9 fluid ounce bottles) compared to 27.8 gallons only 10 years ago. About 1 in every 5 Americans said they drank mostly bottled water in 2018, while only about 10% of Americans drank tap or filtered water exclusively during the same period.

The water we drink is typically purified, spring, mineral, sparkling or tap. Do you know the differences between each of them? Personally, I’d be happy with just plain old H20.

  • Purified: water that has been mechanically filtered or processed to remove impurities and make it suitable for consumption
  • Spring: ground water that has been pre-purified by travelling through naturally occurring filters such as limestone, sandstone and clay
  • Mineral: spring water that has had minerals added to it
  • Sparkling: water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure
  • Tap: (also known as faucet water, running water, municipal water) water that has been sourced from rivers, streams and/or groundwater, then sent to a treatment facility to be processed and sanitized before it is directed to a faucet

About two-thirds of all bottled water in the U.S. comes from a municipal water supply or tap water. Why doesn’t it say so on the bottle? An argument that many people give for purchasing water is they don’t trust the public water supply, but that’s exactly what they’re buying … or might be buying. There is no easy way of knowing.

“Big brands such as Aquafina, Dasani, Kirkland, Nestle Pure Life … are tap water. Tap water that contains microplastics shed by the plastic bottles in which they store otherwise freely-available water.”

Recently, I’ve been quite taken aback by a relative newcomer on the bottled water scene: Liquid Death, a new brand of highly marketed, uber-cool water that is packaged in aluminium tall boy cans. Celebs such as skater Tony Hawk, rapper Wiz Khalifa, DJ Steve Aoki, Hulu president Kelly Campbell, former Myspace CEO Michael Jones (Science Inc.) and Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin are investors in the brand.

“Did you know that a tall boy can is the same size as a regular bottle of water? Yup, the standard 16.9 fluid ounces. Which do you think is more sexy: 16.9 fl. oz. printed on a label, or a tall boy can? Liquid Death already knew the answer to this question.”

Liquid Death has been growing in leaps and bounds, with sales of $3 million in 2019, which catapulted to almost $45 million in 2021. The brand sells still and sparkling “mountain water from the Alps” that looks like bad boy craft beer for $1.39 or so, at cool places such as Whole Foods and Live Nation venues.

I couldn’t find a single picture of the water source from Liquid Death or its contract Austrian water provider.

Liquid Death reports that its water is obtained from an unnamed “private, protected” underground source managed by wholesale beverage company Starzinger in Frankenmarkt, Austria, using a combination of filtration and pasteurization to remove any microbiological contaminants.

Although Liquid Death espouses death to plastic, its supplier also runs 4 plastic bottling plants. Hmmmmm, no one mentioned that. I believe in transparency and guilt by association.

Furthermore, one can only imagine the carbon footprint used to transport water from Austria to America. I’d love to see the math on this. Evian, can you help us out? Can anyone provide it?

“Plastic is not even technically recyclable anymore because it is no longer profitable to recycle … Environmental economics now say it is actually better for the planet to simply throw your plastic in the trash so that it requires less trucking to get it to the landfill. Sad stuff.” (Liquid Death website)

Is aluminum a good alternative to plastic, glass or even paper – another eco-friendly espoused water packaging alternative? That’s a complex question to answer. But one thing is true: for aluminum to be created, a mineral called bauxite is needed. Like oil, bauxite is a limited resource. It takes about 4-5 tons of high grade bauxite to produce 1 ton of primary aluminum metal and a lot of energy. In the process, some pretty nasty perfluorocarbons (PFCs) aka greenhouse gases are emitted and a whole bunch of toxic red sludge is produced, a known environmental hazard.

Most aluminum is produced using the Bayer process. For every ton of alumina produced, approximately 1-1.5 tons of hazardous red mud are also produced, which translates into about 150-175 million tons globally each year

While aluminum can be recycled, the consumer aluminum can recycling rate in the U.S. only reached only about 46.1% in 2018 – which means that half of all such cans are treated as garbage and thrown away.

“I was going to create something that’s going to make my friends laugh.” (Mike Cessario, ex-ad agency creative director and co-founder, Liquid Death)

Kudos to you Mr. Santa Monica Tattoo Skateboard Dude. You are a marketing genius, just the man you say you don’t want to be. And your brand has recently been valued at $525 million. So who’s having the last laugh?

Now challenge yourself and your friends to our Bottled Water Culture Quiz of the Day, by downloading Quizefy from the app store if you haven’t already done so, then see how much you know and Strut Your Smart. Bottled Water Culture Quiz is only available today, then it disappears. We’ll be back again every Tuesday with a special blog posted at www.quizefy.com, along with a new trivia quiz on the same topic as the blog. Don’t forget to follow Quizefy on social media, so we can remind you of the upcoming blog and quiz content.

Coming Up For Quizefy

Every day:  a new trivia Quiz of the Day on continuously changing topics. Available for 24 hours only

Every Tuesday:  our FACT-ory blog on www.quizefy.com, with a matching Quiz of the Day in our Quizefy app. Read our blog for hints that will improve your Quizefy score

Every Sunday:  the Week in Review, our comprehensive review of national and global events in the past 7 days. This would be a great addition to your Sunday routine

Always:  trivia questions on a myriad of topics that you can choose yourself
Tuesday, June 18th: 24 Hrs. of Lemans
Wednesday, June 19th: PTSD Awareness Month
Thursday, June 20th: Migraine Headache and Awareness Month
Friday, June 21st: Pollinators Month
Saturday, June 22nd: DJ Month
Sunday, June 23rd: Week in Review
Monday, June 24th: Dairy Month
Click here to Download Quizefy
About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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