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  • this is a story about a world obsessed with stuff

  • it's a story about a system in crisis.

  • we're trashing the planet

  • we're trashing each other

  • and we're not even having fun

  • the good thing is that when we start to understand the system

  • we can see lots of places to step in and turn these problems into solutions

  • [music]

  • one the problems with trying to use less stuff

  • is that sometimes we feel like we really need it

  • what if you live in a city like, say cleveland, and you want a glass of water

  • are you going to take your chances and get it from the city tap?

  • or should you reach for a bottle of water that comes from the pristine rainforests of Fiji?

  • Well, Fiji brand water thought the answer to this question was obvious

  • So they built a whole ad campaign around it

  • it turned out to be one of the dumbest moves

  • in advertising history

  • the city of cleveland it like being the butt

  • of fiji jokes

  • so they did some tests and guess what?

  • These tests showed a glass of Fiji water is lower quality

  • it loses taste tests against Cleveland tap

  • and costs thousands of times more

  • this story is typical of what happens when

  • you test bottled water against tap water

  • is it cleaner?

  • sometimes, sometimes not

  • in many ways bottled water is less regulated

  • than tap

  • Is it tastier?

  • In taste tests across the country, people consistently

  • choose tap over bottled water.

  • These bottled water companies say theyre just meeting consumer demand

  • but who would demand a less sustainable

  • less tasty, way more expensive product

  • especially one you can get almost free in your kitchen

  • bottled water costs that two thousand times more than tap water

  • Can you imagine paying 2000 times the price of anything else?

  • how about a $10,000 sandwich?

  • yet people in the US by more than half a billion

  • gallons of water every week

  • that is enough to circle the globe more than five times

  • how did this come to be?

  • well it all goes back to how our materials economy works

  • and one of its key drivers which is known is manufactured demand

  • if companies want to keep growing

  • they have to keep selling more and more stuff

  • in the 1970s giant soft drink companies

  • got worried as they saw their growth projections

  • starting to level off

  • there's only so much soda that a person can drink

  • Plus it wouldn't be long before people began

  • realizing that soda is not that healthy

  • and turned back to drinking tap water.

  • well the companies found their next big idea

  • in a silly designer product that most people laughed off

  • as a passing yuppie fad

  • "Water is free," people said back then.

  • "what will they sell us next, air?"

  • so how do you get people to buy this fringe product?

  • Simple. You manufacture demand

  • How do you do that?

  • Well, imagine you're in charge of the bottled water

  • company

  • Since people aren't lining up to trade their hard-earned money

  • for you unnecessary product

  • you make them feel scared and insecure if the don’t have it

  • and that's exactly what the bottled water industry did

  • one of their first marketing tactics was to

  • scare people about tap water

  • with ads like Fiji's Cleveland campaign.

  • ""When were done," one top water exec said,

  • "tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes."

  • Next, you hide the reality of your product behind

  • images of pure fantasy

  • Have you ever noticed how bottled water tries to seduce us

  • with pictures of mountains streams and pristine nature?

  • But guess where a third of all bottled water in the U.S. actually

  • comes from?

  • The tap!

  • Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coke’s Dasani

  • are two of the many brands that are really filtered tap water

  • But the pristine nature lie goes much deeper.

  • In a recent full page ad, Nestlé said:

  • Bottled water is the most environmentally

  • responsible consumer product in the world.”

  • What!?

  • They are trashing the environment all along the product’s life cycle.

  • Exactly how is that environmentally responsible?

  • The problems start here with extraction and production

  • where oil is used to make water bottles

  • Each year, making the plastic water bottles

  • used in the U.S. takes enough oil and energy

  • to fuel a million cars.

  • All that energy spent to make the bottle

  • even more to ship it around the planet

  • and then we drink it in about 2 minutes?

  • That brings us to the big problem at the other end of the life cycle

  • Disposal. What happens to all these bottles when were done?

  • Eighty percent end up in landfills,

  • where they will sit for thousands of years,

  • or in incinerators, where they are burned, releasing

  • toxic pollution.

  • The rest gets collected for recycling.

  • I was curious about where the plastic bottles

  • that I put in recycling bins go.

  • I found out that shiploads were being sent

  • to India.

  • So, I went there.

  • I’ll never forget riding over a hill outside Madras

  • where I came face to face with a mountain

  • of plastic bottles from California.

  • Real recycling would turn these bottles

  • back into bottles.

  • But that wasn’t what was happening here.

  • Instead these bottles were slated to be downcycled,

  • which means turning them into lower quality

  • products that would just be chucked later.

  • The parts that couldn’t be downcycled were thrown away there

  • shipped all the way to India just to be dumped in

  • someone else’s backyard.

  • If bottled water companies want to use mountains

  • on their labels,

  • it’d be more accurate to show one of these

  • mountains of plastic waste.

  • Scaring us, seducing us, and misleading us

  • these strategies are all core parts of manufacturing demand

  • Once theyve manufactured all this demand,

  • creating a new multibillion dollar market,

  • they defend it by beating out the competition.

  • But in this case,

  • the competition is our basic human right to

  • clean, safe drinking water.

  • Pepsi’s Vice Chairman publicly said,

  • The biggest enemy is tap water!”

  • They want us to think it’s dirty and bottled

  • water is the best alternative.

  • In many places, public water is polluted

  • thanks to polluting industries like

  • the plastic bottle industry!

  • And these bottled water guys are all too happy

  • to offer their expensive solutions

  • which keep us hooked on their products.

  • It’s time we took back the tap.

  • That starts with making a personal commitment

  • to not buy or drink bottled water unless the water

  • in your community is truly unhealthy.

  • Yes, it takes a bit of foresight to grab a

  • reusable bottle on the way out, but I think we can handle it

  • Then take the next step

  • join a campaign that’s working for real solutions.

  • Like demanding investment in clean tap water for all

  • In the US, tap water is underfunded by $24 billion

  • partly because people believe drinking water

  • only comes from a bottle!

  • Around the world, a billion people don’t

  • have access to clean water right now.

  • Yet cities all over are spending millions of dollars to deal with all

  • the plastic bottles we throw out.

  • What if that money were spent improving our water systems

  • or better yet, preventing pollution to begin with?

  • There are many more things we can do to solve this problem.

  • Lobby your city officials to bring back drinking fountains

  • Work to ban the purchase of bottled water

  • by your school, organization or entire city

  • This is a huge opportunity for millions of people to wake up

  • and protect our wallets,

  • our health

  • and the planet.

  • The good news is: it’s already started.

  • Bottled water sales have begun to drop while business is booming

  • for safe refillable water bottles. Yay!

  • Restaurants are proudly servingtap

  • and people are choosing to pocket the hundred of thousands