Debating Fiji Water

To discuss Mother Jones’ recent expose of Fiji Water, we gathered the story’s muckraking writer, a bottled water industry rep, and an eco-blogger, then turned them loose to debate with readers.

What transpired was a lively discussion about military juntas, the eco-impact of bottled water, censorship, and the bottled water company in the middle of the storm.

Here are a couple exchanges that stood out:

–An anonymous Fiji resident challenged the notion that Fiji Water should speak out against the government:

“(Fiji Water) faces a dilemma, it can criticise the government and be morally right but at the same time putting whole communities under the poverty line. Or it can protect those communities and keep quiet. Which is the right answer? Which is morally correct?”

Anna Lenzer, the writer of the story, responded that if Fiji Water wanted to protect and serve the Fiji community, it should be doing a lot more:

“The company’s claim to, as Rob Six wrote in his reply to Mother Jones, ‘bring clean water to 100 communities in Fiji this year,’ cost the company just $150,000 last year…The company gave $100,000 in 2007 to the trust fund that covers the villages around its bottling plant. Meanwhile, the Resnicks made a $55 million donation to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last fall. So it’s hard to swallow the company’s claim that they’re giving Fiji all they’ve got, especially in a time of crisis in Fiji.”

–A reader named “Christian” had some concerns about bottled water in general:

“Bottled water never was, is not, and never will be a ‘green’, ecologic product. You can produce it the way you want, it will never be ‘green’. Bottled water is an industrial absurdity, nobody needs bottled water. Pretending that a brand of bottled water is a ‘green business’ is showing deep ignorance.”

Bottled Water Industry rep Tom Lauria countered that in some cases, bottled water is neccessary:

“Anyone who has travelled anywhere outside the United States and/or Canada knows that bottled water is an essential element in hydration. U.S. Travelers in Asia, Africa, India and even Europe depend on bottled water exclusively. There is no drinkable ‘tap water’ in many places.”

Thanks to all who participated in the discussion. To read the whole thing, or to give your two cents before the forum ends today, click here.