My Bottle of “Ethos Water”

EthosWaterToday at work I was dying of thirst. I had no waterbottle today, I’m getting over a cold so my throat is very dry, and our waterfountain is only good for Coca-Cola coloured water. I wasn’t much in the mood for that, so I caved and bought a bottle of water.

I hate buying water. Water is free, and tap water doesn’t require the production of a plastic bottle. Bottled water is terrible for the environment, that much is clear, but this post isn’t about that. I noticed all kinds of strange claims on my bottle that I’d like to look into with more detail.

The most glaring of the claims made on the bottle is their tag line “helping children get clean water”. Sounds good, put bottled water to some good use. This is clarified on the side of the bottle:

We began with a simple idea: “Let’s create a bottled water and help children around the world get clean water.” We hope you like Ethos Water and that you’ll join us in our efforts to get clean water to those who need it most. Thanks.

Further down the side of the bottle it says that $0.10 from the sale of every bottle supports humaitarian water projects, with the hope of raising $10 million by the end of 2010. I paid more than 2 dollars for this particular bottle, so 10 cents doesn’t seem like a whole lot to go towards helping the thirsty children. But that is 10 cents that would otherwise have not gone to charity, so it’s better than nothing, right?

I think that most people buy bottled water because they’re thirsty. Makes sense. But if you’re compelled to buy the water because of its promise of charity, consider donating your $2 to Charity Water. According to the Wikipedia entry on Ethos Water, you would need to buy 2,000 bottles of the water to reach the equivelent of donating $100 to Charity Water.

Maybe it’s just my cynical side coming out, but it seems to me that the founders of Ethos Water decided on the “saving the children” angle as more of a marketing ploy than true charity.

The next thing that I noticed on the bottle that I thought was strange was the promise that the water is “Sodium Free”. It’s a trend these days in food products to have lower sodium, but calling water Sodium Free? It just seems out there that I should be concerned about getting sodium from drinking water. The evidence that normal levels of sodium is a health risk isn’t even that good.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s website has this to say regarding sodium in drinking water:

Should I be concerned about sodium in my drinking water?
No. Sodium levels in drinking water from most public water systems are unlikely to be a significant contribution to adverse health effects.

To reduce my sodium intake, should I buy bottled water instead of using tap water?
It is not necessary to switch to bottled water to maintain a healthy, low-sodium diet. Levels of sodium in a serving of drinking water are very low in most water systems. Also, FDA imposes quality standards for bottled water that are equivalent to EPA’s drinking water standards. To reduce the risks of adverse health effects due to sodium, consult a physician or registered dietitian to plan a healthy diet that reduces the sodium content in your total food intake.

There you go. So why does Ethos Water bother putting this on their bottle?

I was going to go into more detail but this post is long enough already!


4 Responses to “My Bottle of “Ethos Water””

  1. 1 Michael June 13, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Hi Linzee, just clicked over from Bad Astronomy. Excellent post you have here! There are far better ways of getting clean water to children! Many aid organizations, both religious and secular are involved in drilling wells for clean water. However, one needs to do research on these organizations to find out what percentage of your donation goes to the actual project, and what goes to administration costs. Sometimes the administration costs take over 80% of your donation in some cases! It would be interesting to get a breakdown of how much of that .10 goes to the actual project rather than administrative costs!

  2. 2 linzeebinzee June 13, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by!

    I did try to find out where that 10 cents is actually going, but I had no luck. Their website gives pretty vague information, but they did say that none of the money funded promotion of religious orgainizations, so that’s a start. I actually sent them an email asking about where the money goes and how they decided on the amount of 10 cents per bottle, but they haven’t responded yet. I’ll let you know when they do.

  3. 3 Global Villager June 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Well, I wouldn’t blame them for using charity as a “marketing angle”, they are not the first or the last to do so. Companies have been “borrowing” social issues to sell their products since the beginning. The green movement and “fair trade” has been capitalized on for some time now. I applaud you for doing the research and finding the truth for yourself, most people do not scrutinize such claims which is why this stuff continues!

  4. 4 Nicholas January 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    There are a lot of people who do low sodium diets, often for health reasons like dealing with high cholesterol, where they have to avoid as much sodium as possible.

    The reason sodium can actually be a concern in drinking water is because a lot of companies use rock salt-based water softeners, which bring the sodium content up a great deal.

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