The Story of Bottled Water

Synopsis: How 'Manufactured Demand' pushes what we don't need and destroys what we need most.
Director(s): Louis Fox
9 min

this is a story about a world obsessed with stuff

it's a story about a system in crisis.

we're trashing the planet

we're trashing each other

and we're not even having fun

the good thing, is that when we start to understand the system

we can see lots of places to step in and turn these problems into solutions


one the problems with trying to use less stuff

is that sometimes we feel like we really need it

what if you live in a city like, say cleveland, and you want a glass of water

are you going to take your chances and get it from the city tap?

or should you reach for a bottle of water that comes from the pristine rainforests of


Well, Fiji brand water thought the answer to this question was obvious

So they built a whole ad campaign around it

it turned out to be one of the dumbest moves

in advertising history

the city of cleveland it like being the butt

of fiji jokes

so they did some tests and guess what?

These tests showed a glass of Fiji water is lower quality

it loses taste tests against Cleveland tap

and costs thousands of times more

this story is typical of what happens when

you test bottled water against tap water

is it cleaner?

sometimes, sometimes not

in many ways bottled water is less regulated

than tap

Is it tastier?

In taste tests across the country, people consistently

choose tap over bottled water.

These bottled water companies say theyre just meeting consumer demand

but who would demand a less sustainable

less tasty, way more expensive product

especially one you can get almost free in your kitchen

bottled water costs that two thousand times more than tap water

Can you imagine paying 2000 times the price of anything else?

how about a $10,000 sandwich?

yet people in the US by more than half a billion

gallons of water every week

that is enough to circle the globe more than five times

how did this come to be?

well it all goes back to how our materials economy works

and one of its key drivers which is known is manufactured demand

if companies want to keep growing

they have to keep selling more and more stuff

in the 1970s giant soft drink companies

got worried as they saw their growth projections

starting to level off

there's only so much soda that a person can drink

Plus it wouldn't be long before people began

realizing that soda is not that healthy

and turned back to [gasp] drinking tap water.

well the companies found their next big idea

in a silly designer product that most people laughed off

as a passing yuppie fad

"Water is free," people said back then.

"what will they sell us next, air?"

so how do you get people to buy this fringe product?

Simple. You manufacture demand

How do you do that?

Well, imagine you're in charge of the bottled water


Since people aren't lining up to trade their hard-earned money

for you unnecessary product

you make them feel scared and insecure if the dont have it

and that's exactly what the bottled water industry did

one of their first marketing tactics was to

scare people about tap water

with ads like Fiji's Cleveland campaign.

""When were done," one top water exec said,

"tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes."

Next, you hide the reality of your product behind

images of pure fantasy

Have you ever noticed how bottled water tries to seduce us

with pictures of mountains streams and pristine nature?

But guess where a third of all bottled water in the U.S. actually

comes from?

The tap!

Pepsis Aquafina and Cokes Dasani

are two of the many brands that are really filtered tap water

But the pristine nature lie goes much deeper.

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Louis Fox

Louis Fox (? - c. December 4, 1866) was an American professional billiards player in the mid-19th century who was briefly the U.S. champion. He is well known for an incident which may or may not have actually happened: He is alleged to have committed suicide as the result of losing a match after a fly interfered with play. The story has become a legend that is often reported as fact. The confirmed facts are that Fox, who was defending his title as American champion, was defeated in a match by John Deery on September 7, 1865, at Washington Hall in Fox's home town, Rochester, New York; Fox went missing in Rochester on or about December 4, 1866; and his body was found in the Genesee River near the Rochester neighborhood of Charlotte on May 10, 1867. Washington Hall, since demolished, stood at the northeast corner of Main and Clinton, about three blocks east of the Genesee. The classic version of the story is that Fox was on his way to victory when a fly settled on the cue ball. Fox repeatedly waved his cue stick over the ball to try to brush the fly away. On the third attempt, Fox touched the ball, technically a miscue, forfeiting his shot. His opponent Deery rallied to win the match. The stunned Fox left the billiard hall and committed suicide by diving into the Genesee River. Variations of the story's ending have him drowning himself immediately after the match; the next day; or some time later. Contemporary sources reported Deery's victory, but apparently nothing about the fly. Reports of Fox's death disagreed on whether his death was thought to be by accident or suicide. Another element appearing in later versions of the story is an alleged $40,000 prize. The prize was actually $1,000. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Story of Bottled Water" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Nov. 2020. <>.

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