Aquamantra: A greener bottled water?

Nothing raises the ire of a good greenie like bottled water, right? You only need to review the Sierra Club’s bottled water facts brochure (or watch a film like FLOW) to recognize the source of that anger: individual plastic bottles of water create costs at all points in their lifecycle, from the pumping of spring water (when that’s the case), to production of bottles, to transportation of the product, and finally to disposal of the empty bottle. These processes impact environmental quality, broad access to fresh water, and even human health… an awful lot of bottled water doesn’t stand up to claims of a cleaner, healthier product.

With that said, it’s tempting to like a company such as Aquamantra: they use ENSO bottles, which are recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable… moreso even than bottles made from bioplastics. They appear to be working hard to promote recycling, and even hold educational events for kids to get them started thinking about disposal issues early. They give back to charitable organizations focused on child nutrition. Bottle labels feature artwork from Southern California artists, plus positive affirmations… there’s a clear sense of spirituality tied into the business model (the founders were inspired by the film WHAT THE BLEEP DO WE KNOW?, and Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield sits on their board of advisors).

All steps in the right direction, no doubt… Aquamantra’s even pretty transparent about dismal recycling rates, and some of the costs created by bottled water.

So, is Aquamantra a green bottled water company?

In comparison to other vendors of this product, perhaps. But a number of questions still come up:

  • What’s the effect of pumping spring water on wetlands, lakes, and other water sources nearby?
  • What are the energy and other resource inputs involved in producing the ENSO bottles?
  • Is their transportation footprint any different from any other bottled water company?
  • What’s the cost premium on the benefits they offer? According to Environmental Working Group, that bottle of water can cost as much at 1900 times more than an equivalent amount of tap water.

Others have labeled Aquamantra’s use of spirituality in their marketing “imaginative,” or even “weird.” I’m not going to do that… they’re certainly welcome to their belief system, and even to integrate into their business and marketing strategy.  But couldn’t the thoughts inherent in the mantras on their bottles also infuse water that comes through a faucet filter, and goes into a reusable bottle?

A quick disclaimer: We do sell reusable bottles and faucet filters at the sustainablog Green Choices store — I haven’t included any links to those items in order to avoid any conflicts.


Image credit: Aquamantra