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Monday, January 3, 2011


Why Fiji Water is going down the drain

I've spoken about my problem with water bottle consumption, and I've talked about the serious issue of greenwashing.  Today we get a taste of both.  Fiji, the already controversial water bottle giant, is facing a Class Action Law Suit for greenwashing!  

As a response to decreased sales, Fiji used a strategy many other companies are realizing profit from as well: they embellished the level of their environmental footprint.  The result: their sales increased by 12% in 2008, surpassing industry leader Evion. 

What was their strategy?  
It is the specific marketing scheme that makes this case so ridiculous.

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Fiji actually claimed to have a negative carbon footprint.  This would imply that the company is removing more carbon pollution from the atmosphere than they released into it!  Think about how ludicrous this seems: all the plastic waste, transport pollution, manufacturing that emit carbon during a supply-chain process to sell water bottles cannot possibly be overridden by the amount of carbon Fiji could realistically remove.  Remember what I said several posts ago: Plastic can never fully disintegrate. 

And what is their defense?

Fiji Water's response is that they base their carbon calculations on the full life cycle of the water bottle.   This method, called "forward crediting", is a completely unaccredited way to measure carbon footprint.  As quoted in the complaint itself, "They simply claim credit for carbon removal that may or may not take place - up to several decades in the future."  Through various sustainable methods and new processes to decrease carbon emissions, Fiji claims it will reduce carbon emissions by 120%.  

And I'm sure the company will do just losing the lawsuit, filing for bankruptcy, and closing up shop!

I hope companies use this case as a precedent for their own sustainability marketing campaigns.  People aren't stupid, and more than ever, we have a plethora of resources to get the straight facts.  As a lesson for us consumers, let's try to think more critically about the brands we choose.  Happy new year!

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