The Hidden Cost of $40 “Bling Water”

Simran Sethi and Sarah Smarsh are writing a series on the impacts of everyday things.They will be posting previews on Green Options before launching the posts on Huffington Post. Here’s the low-down on how we’re quenching our thirst.

We’ve been seduced by the beverage industry into believing only they can quench our thirst with colored, caffeinated, vitaminized, electrolyted water. We have become so parched that we can’t walk down the street without toting a single-use plastic bottle touting the magical effects of its water source.

Apparently, Kabbalah Water will heal us and Bling Water will define us. At the Bling H20 website, Bling Water “creator” Kevin Boyd describes noticing on Hollywood studio lots that “you could tell a lot about a person by the bottled water they carried.” First of all, didn’t god create water? Secondly, the water is bottled in Dandridge, Tennessee – since when is Southern Tennessee a spring of L.A. status? Yes, Dandrige’s water ranks very highly on EPA’s water quality index, but why are we spending so much money ($40 for Bling’s “Go Green” 750ml bottle) on cross-continental water instead of cleaning up our local waterways? Tinseltown’s water is so polluted with run-off and industrial contamination that perhaps water by way of Tennessee does make sense.

Here’s what the less blingy among us do:

  1. Work to identify problems at the source, pushing for the protection of wetlands.
  2. Reduce the amount of toxic junk we flush down and rinse away (including pharmaceuticals).
  3. Lobby our local officials to protect our source water.
  4. Use it sparingly: in the yard, in the house, everywhere
  5. Carry our own bottles (Coated aluminum is Siman’s preference, Sarah goes with BPA-free plastic) and proudly fill up at water fountains and taps.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

Thanks to the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Lacey Johnston for research assistance.

  1. Jessica Gottlieb

    I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to wholeheartedly disagree with the statement that, “Tinseltown’s water is so polluted with run-off and industrial contamination that perhaps water by way of Tennessee does make sense”

    The LADWP tests their water 1,000 times a day, that’s 365,000 tests a year. Here’s a link to the environmental reports.


    I live in Los Angeles and have my entire life. When I see an adult sucking on a water bottle I cringe.

  2. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    I remember, as a kid, reading in one of my kid magazines about how some guys were putting tap water in bottles and selling it… and how the writer thought this was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. Clearly, s/he wasn’t even close on how inane this concept could get…

  3. Bobby B.

    Kelli: “The Marketing of Evil” by David Kupelian is all about how marketers have convinced us of what we think we need to be cool. There is a great section about Sprite’s ascension from lowly clear soda to concert cool soda. I highly recommend the book.

    Jessica: If New Orleans can render water from the Mississippi suitable for human consumption, any municipality can do the same with nearly any water source.

    Jeff: Bottling water dates back to long before your childhood. I think this company may have been the first in the US to do it:


    All: If the problem with bottled water is the plastic containers, why aren’t any of you guys screaming about the milk served in plastic bags in schools throughout the land? Is it any more biodegradeable than a sandwich baggie?

  4. Robin Shreeves

    The milk in my kids’ school is served in cardboard containers and I’ve never seen it in plastic containers at a school. If it were in plastic, I’d have a talk with my school.

    Have you heard of the trashless (waste-free, litterless) lunch that many are advising? Maybe not particularly on Sustainablog, but you can find it written about on Green Options blogs and I’ve written about it on my personal blog – so have thousands of other environmental bloggers. It’s when you take everything in reusable containers and at the end of the lunch there is no trash. It leaves no room for pre-packaged snacks or drinks because they have wrappers. It’s not just for school kids. It’s also advised for those who take lunch to work.

    Bottled water is a problem because it is so incredibly unnecessary yet so ubiquitous. Milk in schools – for some it is necessary. Packaging it wisely is the best option.

    Sandwich baggies – not ever necessary.

    Each of these items – bottled water, plastic milk cartons and sandwich baggies are problems. Talking about one without “screaming” about others does not mean they aren’t addressed. They are, just not in this particular post.

  5. Simran

    How right you are. This is a classic case of manufactured desire. I am 37 and I remember when there was only one place to get water (the tap) and we didn’t seem to need 75 types of water (with vitamins! with caffeine! with herbs!). Thanks for reading.

    I cringe, too. But reports on water quality in Southeast LA make me cringe for other reasons. We live in the richest nation in the world and people have to drink water that’s contaminated with bunker fuel. It’s nuts. That said, I should have clarified. I am not an advocate of bling or any other bottled water except when absolutely necessary.

    Right on. I, like Robin, have not seen milk in plastic bags. But that does suck. Just like shrink-wrapped coconuts at Trader Joes. As Robin so astutely said, there is so much to cover we can’t get to it all. Also, this is a part of a bigger series that has been day-parted. We are up to our work-out and you can find the other posts on yoga mats and tennis shoes here:

    Thanks everyone for your food (water?) for thought,

  6. Ann

    As long as Bayer, Dupont and Monsanto control our government and food, there will be not clean water. Their pollutants are already destroying the honey bees around the world.

  7. Mr. Beingessner

    My English class discussed Bling Water and the implications. As part of the assignment, they recorded their responses. Here they are:

    Water is water – just because you bling out the bottle doesn’t make it any better!

    Bling water is a scam. Why should people pay $20 to $40 for water when water is basically free. The only difference between Bling Water and tap water is bling water comes in a fashionable bottle. People can spend money on this stupid product if they want, but I won’t.

    Why would pay $40 for water from Tennessee? It’s all about the looks and bottle – that makes people want to buy it. Not everybody sees through this advertising and marketing sham. But we do.

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