Water Water Everywhere

Last week I wrote an item for T, The New York Times Style Magazine blog “The Moment” about pretentious H20 packaging. The item prompted a chorus of jeers from those who took issue with my comment that there’s nothing wrong with upscale water bottles as long as the water is good. In this era of waste, “sustainability” is both a strategy and a buzzword, and the whole idea of packaging water in disposable (or returnable) plastic and glass is anathema to many. Well, just the other day, I came across spring water from the U.K. that’s packaged in a carton (yes, like a juice pack).

Aquapax, whose graphics are reminiscent of the old Crabtree & Evelyn, is touted in their promotion as “User Friendly: Aquapax packaging is 70% paper from sustainable and renewable trees–the oil that makes plastic bottles isn’t.” And: “Energy Efficient: Transporting empty Aquapax cartons uses up to 80%
less fuel than empty glass or plastic bottles. When full, Aquapax uses up to 40% less fuel than transporting full glass bottles–the energy used to make glass bottles is also pretty scary.” And: “Recyclable too: 100% recyclable.” Take that Evian!

So, what’s the downside? Why haven’t other water bottling companies followed suit? Do you have an answer for me (or have a theory)?

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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