Water Cooler Moments

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Some of us at Unplastic are old enough to remember photos of Kate Moss in the ’90s clutching a bottle of Evian. What was made cool by supermodels quickly became ubiquitous, with the consumption of bottled water doubling in the last 15 years.

Those defining backstage moments have led us to where we are now, with each of us downing an average of three bottles of water a week. Most bottles do not get recycled: 2,500 water bottles were collected from the banks of a stretch of the Thames on a single day last year.

Plastic waste not withstanding, why are we even drinking bottled water? Evian is not the elixir of life and it’s not going to make you look remotely like Kate Moss. While access to clean water is a crisis in many parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the UK has had piped water for 200 years and the London domestic supply was deemed an inspiration to other cities way back in the 1820s. Selling bottled water to Londoners is akin to coals to Newcastle. If you don’t believe us, find out how clean London’s and the rest of the UK’s tap water is here.

In an ironic twist, it turns out bottled water is where the contamination lies. Researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia found plastic in 93 percent of bottled water samples – which included Evian, Aquafina, Dasani, Aqua, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino – originating from the cap and the industrial bottling process.

The fastest way to kill a trend is to have it taken on by the masses. So let’s have one final water cooler moment, and agree to head to the tap.

Action

Get your workplace to join the #OneLess movement.

Sign up to refill water bottles.

Donate to WaterAid UK.

 

 

Muscle versus Method

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Sometimes we just want to do the right thing. We investigate, we research, we read up. And we end up researching ourselves into inertia. So it goes with cleaning products. Is it better to use a plant-based bottle? But then is that stealing food acres? How about recycled bottles? But how many miles are used to transport it, process it, transport it back? Should we use recyclable bottles? But what will happen now China won’t recycle them? Ok, so glass? But the energy to distribute must be huge.

Let’s make it easy. What’s available in the big supermarkets and what’s the least worst option? Tesco sells the usual Cillit Bang, Mr Muscle, Cif, Flash, Dettol and its own brand. On the basis that if these big players were doing anything radical on the packaging front they would never shut up telling us about it, let’s assume they’re not. They may well be but who’s got the time to read through – and between the lines – of S C Johnson’s 40 page Sustainability Report? If you do, here it is to download.

Q: Are Mr Muscle products recyclable?

A: Many elements of Mr Muscle’s products and packaging can be recycled.

Hmm. Not exactly a resounding yes is it?

So what to do at Tesco? Turns out they do stock an alternative: Method. It uses 100% recycled plastic in its bottles and they can themselves be re-recycled. Plus it has a seemingly more open stance on its ingredients, opting for biodegradable and non-accumulative chemicals. All in all, it’s comforting to know that its cleaning products have Silver or Gold Cradle to Cradle certification from the independent assessor MBDC.

Okay, okay S C Johnson bought Method (and, in fact, Ecover) in September 2017 specifically to expand its portfolio of greener products. But, as long as it keeps its values (and its MBDC ratings), we conclude that, standing in front of that shelf at Tesco, reaching for Method not Muscle seems like the least worst option.