If you go to the Bonaqua website you'll see bits of the usual horrendous bollocks that media people are paid to produce. Apparently an "ice-cold bottle of Bonaqua" is "the coolest accessory around". That's presumably news to people who might have suspected that a labrador puppy, or a convertible was very cool. Not to mention people who thought that an accessory was a durable item like a pair of sunglasses or a handbag. Of course, this is advertising, and the people who make it are paid to abuse the language, in order to achieve an effect. It's striking that the "coolest" claim is almost completely free of content. There's no objective standard of cool which you could use to check it. And if it was false, it's not clear how you would have been harmed for following it (except by having the fact that you're a moron thereby revealed). So it's hard to see that it could even be misleading - it doesn't say anything definite enough.
What bothers me isn't coolness, though. In some places in the world there really is a problem about getting access to safe drinking water. Sometimes there is tap water, but it isn't really safe. In such places you really do need to filter or treat the water you can get, or have safe water brought in.
South African cities are not such places. The tap water is almost always perfectly healthy. So there's no systematic need to buy bottles of water. And there are good reasons not to buy bottled water. The process of making bottles pollutes directly, consumes water, and creates plastic waste. Driving the bottles around creates more pollution. When there's perfectly good water on tap, those environmental costs are completely optional. And they should be avoided, unless you have some special reason to drive up atmospheric carbon or get more plastic into the oceans and landfills.
Bottled water, though, is profitable. And it sure helps to encouage the punters to think that it's healthy, and to downplay the environmental costs.
So back to the website. Consider the following (from the section called "The world of water":
Consumers all over the world are realising how important it is to take better care of themselves, to balance their fast-paced lifestyles. Worldwide, people are eating better, exercising more and seldom seen without a bottle of their favourite brand of mineral water.Well, many millions of people are horribly poor, and have almost no choice about what to eat. Many could feed a family for the price of a bottle of water. Leave that aside and look at the paragraph, though. People are taking care of themselves. People are eating better, exercising and drinking bottled water. Suppose the first claim is true. And we all agree that exercise and diet make an impact on health. What about bottled water? What's the link? The site doesn't explain. Read on:
In South Africa, this trend has caught on fast. Gyms are packed, restaurants that serve healthy food options are popping up all over and bottled water is in ever fashionable consumer's hand.Again - what's the link? Why not go to gym, eat some salad, and drink tap water? Keep reading:
There is an abundance of bottled water brands available on the South African market, but funky, refreshing Bonaqua has proven to be a favourite lifestyle accessory for those who demand both quality and taste.Oh hell. How the hell could one kind of water be specifically funky? Anyway, I was hoping to find a link about the link between bottled water in general, or Bonaqua specifically, and health. I didn't find one, just more flim flam about accessories.
If you follow a link at this point, you get told a bunch of stuff about how important water is for the body, and how to be healthy you need water. None of the claims made specifically relate to bottled water. I discussed all this with my mate Dave, and he decided to send an email to Bonaqua. (There's a "contact us" link on the website).
Here it is.
Subject: Bonaqua Query
Hello Zanele, Michelle,
The Bonaqua website makes a few claims about Bonaqua that I find interesting. I wonder if you could help me make sense of them.
(1) The site says that an "ice-cold bottle of Bonaqua" is "the coolest accessory around". What does this actually mean? How do you measure cool?
(2) In the section "The world of water" the following text appears:
"Consumers all over the world are realising how important it is to take better care of themselves, to balance their fast-paced lifestyles. Worldwide, people are eating better, exercising more and seldom seen without a bottle of their favourite brand of mineral water."
Of course many many millions of people on Earth are terribly poor, live in awful conditions, and have almost no choice about what to eat. Many of them could feed a family for a price of a half litre of bottled water. Maybe you don't regard them as 'consumers'. Leaving them aside, as your website clearly intends, here is my question: What does taking care of yourself specifically have to do with bottled water, as opposed to clean water from any other source?
(2a) Can you direct me to any research you have done showing a measurable health benefit of your bottled water over municipal tap water in a South African city?
(2b) In particular, consider my case. I eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. But I don't ever drink bottled water - I only drink tap water. Can you direct me to any research you have done, or are aware of, that would explain what mistake I am making as far as "taking care of myself" goes.
Thanks and regards,
I'll post an update once Dave has told me about the response.
PS: The image of a pile of used plastic water bottles was flagrantly stolen, by me, from this site.