Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

A Watered-Down Education

A Watered-Down Education

Food & Water Watch

By Wenonah Hauter

Joe Camel. Ronald McDonald. Tony the Tiger. Spuds McKenzie. Kid-friendly advertising tricks by corporations seeking to lure young consumers clutter the annals of marketing history.

While some of these efforts are more insidious than others, they share a common trait. In each case, advertisers were trying to hook new consumers early to cultivate a sense of brand loyalty to be exploited for years to come. With the advent of programs ostensibly designed to teach kids about water issues, bottled water companies are getting in on the action. Their tactics flow through an institution that few kids can escape—the classroom.

The best example of this is Project WET. This nonprofit organization claims to educate children and parents about the importance of preserving global water resources. According to its website, “sustainable water management is crucial to secure social and economic stability, as well as a healthy environment.”

That’s certainly true. But Nestlé Waters North America, the organization’s main sponsor, is the last entity that should be empowered to educate the public about responsible water use. When you consider the bottled water behemoth's track record of hogging global water supplies and profiting from them, Project WET’s supposed mission is a slap in the face to any community that has had its water muscled away by Nestlé.

By its own admission, Nestlé expends 2.37 gallons of water for every gallon of bottled water it produces. The company used approximately 4 billion gallons of water in 2007. That same year, it reduced the amount of water it used by 1.3 percent, but that was more than cancelled out as it increased the volume of bottled water it produced by 10 percent. Meanwhile, Nestlé buys community water for as little as $ .000081 per gallon, and sells it back to consumers for at least 127,000 times as much.

Pumping all that water comes at a steep price to consumers and the planet. U.S. bottled water consumption used energy equivalent to 32 to 54 million barrels of oil in 2007, enough to fuel approximately 1.5 million cars over the course of a year. Moreover, 77 percent of all empty plastic water bottles consumed in the U.S. end up in landfills.

And yet, Nestlé has the audacity to anoint itself a leader in water education.

With more than 1.1 billion people in the world lacking access to clean water and sanitation, it’s more important than ever that children learn the connection between the choices they make as consumers and their greater impact on the world. But Nestlé’s brand of water education only greenwashes the company’s own hand in profiting from an increasingly scarce resource to which all humans have a right, while cultivating a new generation of consumers.

Luckily, the Nestlé-funded Project WET isn’t the only water education program in town. We at Food & Water Watch have developed an innovative initiative to teach students that the simple choice of choosing a water fountain over a bottle of water can make a real difference in preserving our shared water resources. The Take Back the Tap Curriculum uses English, science, math and social studies to help students draw the connection between the stuff that comes out of their taps at home and that which their peers across the globe sometimes have to walk miles to procure.

As Americans, it’s easy to take drinking water for granted, but this basic resource is central to a complex web of political and environmental issues. We should teach our kids the importance of protecting it. We can’t abdicate that responsibility to corporations with a vested interest in building demand for bottled water.

For more information, click here.

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less