Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fiji Water: So Good, Yet So Bad, part 2

Something weird has happened since I started this blog. A lot of people find it by searching for Fiji Water. Specifically, “fiji water bad,” and “fiji water good.”

I think these people are looking for an answer to a question like this; “If Fiji keeps claiming to be green (“carbon negative” in fact), how can it still have a controversial reputation?”

Here’s my hunch, presented humbly to you in a completely non-scientific graph.

The Fiji Water source is limited, and they’re taking so much of it as to throw the local ecosystem out of whack. Add to that the transportation impact of their water, and you’ve got a product with a pretty big enviro-impact. (Ironically, many local Fijiians have trouble finding clean drinking water, and Fiji Water has a history of unhelpfulness. So add bad karma.)

To fight that reputation, they’ve decided to buy their way out with carbon offsets. Not that it’s a bad practice, but offsets are no substitute for corporate responsibility. Their impact is still massive, and so their offset expenses are as well (a fact reflected in the price per bottle, perhaps).

By contrast, one of the most eco-friendly bottled waters is Icelandic Glacial. Like Fiji Water, it’s imported from a unique source. But since Iceland has to import most of its goods (other than fish), there are a lot of empty ships leaving the country. Icelandic Glacial can export its water on ships that would otherwise return empty. They’re not adding traffic. Their shipping is creating zero NEW emissions; their shipping impact is happening whether they export their pure water or not.

Further, the Icelandic Source is a gigantic under-island glacial “river.” A source so massive, the company’s annual output is about 1% of what flows through the source in a single day. So the water they take doesn’t impact the local environs in the least. But here’s the best part. The country of Iceland derives most of its energy not from oil, but from water. Steam. That’s right, Icelandic Glacial’s bottling plant is powered by – (wait for it) – water.

Yes, Icelandic Glacial still buys carbon offsets to account for its small impact on the earth. And that helped make it the world’s first carbon neutral product.

Fiji Water claims to have caught up, now being “carbon negative” thanks to its egregious greenwashing. Icelandic Glacial is carbon neutral, and is truly a greener product.

I just like to imagine the ad campaign they could run.

(See the earlier posts that are getting this site so much traffic, HERE.)

(PS – another fun fact about Icelandic Glacial is the mineral makeup of the water itself. It’s so pure, it’s the only water that freezes perfectly clear. Neat-o.) I'm reading: Fiji Water: So Good, Yet So Bad, part 2Tweet this!


  1. Hi, David. We saw your post and wanted to take this opportunity to present our information on the subject. If after reading this you still have questions, we’re happy to set up a call with a FIJI Water executive so that we can give you a better overall picture of our many green initiatives, as well as more accurate data than what was posted here. To name a few examples:

    ARTESIAN SOURCE and local access to clean drinking water: FIJI Water’s source is not limited; in fact, our source is a self-replenishing underground aquifer and our production of FIJI Water in no way restricts local access to safe drinking water.

    Reliable access to clean, safe drinking water is common throughout much of Fiji, but there are still some remote villages where infrastructure is lacking. The water we bottle and ship is sourced from an isolated underground aquifer unsuitable for public use. Through the FIJI Water Foundation (website coming soon at, we are currently funding projects to make sure that these more remote communities are provided with a safe water supply, and we have taken direct responsibility for providing water access to the villages that surround our source in the Yaqara Valley.

    In addition, FIJI has partnered with the Rotary Club to fund the Pacific Water for Life Trust, which will provide the infrastructure, expertise and skills necessary to deliver safe, clean and sustainable water to more than 100 additional communities, schools, health centers and nursing stations throughout Fiji over the next two years. More info:

    CARBON OFFSETS: Contrary to your statement, we do not simply purchase offsets to reduce our emissions. In conjunction with Conservation International, we have developed a carbon offset program in Fiji. This is the first reforestation project in Fiji designed to restore the natural rainforest habitat to sequester carbon, create biodiversity refuges and provide income opportunities for local residents. More info:

    Transportation and emissions: As with Icelandic Glacial, FIJI Water makes its journey via container ships (considered one of the most climate-friendly options available) already bound for destination ports and which would make that journey whether or not our product was onboard. As you mentioned regarding Icelandic Glacial, FIJI Water exports its water on ships that would otherwise depart empty. We are not adding traffic.

    FIJI Water accounts for carbon emissions across the product’s entire lifecycle from production to end use, including supply chain emissions, and we encourage other companies – including Icelandic Glacial – to do the same. In addition, we have taken the added step of having ICF International, a leading climate strategy firm, provide third-party verification for our carbon accounting.

    ECONOMIC STABILITY: Lastly, Fiji is home to some of the best-tasting water on the planet, and Fijians have as much right to participate in the global economy as any other country. FIJI Water generates nearly 20% of Fiji’s exports. We employ more than 300 Fijians at the plant and reinvest substantial resources to ensure local Fijians have access to quality health care, education and safe, clean drinking water.

    You can learn more about our work with Conservation International and the people of Fiji at
    We know you wish to provide accurate information to your readers, so we encourage you to contact us at to set up a phone call with one of our executives. We would have emailed you directly but we could not find your contact info on your blog.
    FIJI Water

  2. David,

    Glad to see the straight talk on offsets here. At, we take the same view that companies are not simply good actors on climate by virtue of the size or kinds of offsets they buy in an effort to wipe away their carbon footprint. It's certainly becoming something of a sport these days to pile on the companies bottling and distributing water -- regardless of their arguments about why they're not as bad as they same, though, I think the criticisms are justified.

    Consider in the same light Wal-Mart's newly announced Sustainability Index -- sure, the index will ultimately do a lot of good in moving some companies in WMT's value chain toward something more closely resembling sustainability, but until WMT makes a fundamental shift in the products it sells and the way it fuels our frenzied consumer culture, it's hard to see it as a true sustainability leader. Certainly, the world needs far fewer unnecessary plastic objects (just how responsible can suppliers of such products be?), and it needs far fewer bottles of water being shipped around the globe and ultimately discarded/recycled. It's fundamentally an environmentally destructive business model.

    Wood Turner
    Climate Counts, Executive Director

  3. As always an excellent posting.The
    way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.


  4. FijiWater has really created an international marketing success on what it is doing in Fiji.Apart from its offset programme via CI and the Rotary International, it is still sorely lacks genuine assistance to the very first stakeholder, who are the traditional landowners of the land which the aquifer sits.

    Fiji Water have abruptly cancelled a Trust Fund which was designed in the early years of their existence to assist in the socio-economic development of the 6 villages surrounding the plant.THIS TRUST FUND IS NO MORE.

    The traditional landowners are NOW SUFFERING SILENTLY.They need scholarship for their children.They have waited for the last decade but are STILL WAITING.

    The Housing Project THEY HAD YEARNED FOR YEARS, has gone to the dogs...forcing the workers to either ask Fiji Water management at the plant or "steal" pieces of discared junks such as clear plastics, black polythene, pieces of broken planks, rusted tins, foams and unimaginable stuff to help them make tinshacks in their respective villages.THANKS FIJI WATER.

    Fiji Water have also abruptly cut or discontinued a landowner company that had a formal legal agreement with them, for reasons known to them.THIS WAS THE MOST PAINFUL EXPERIENCE FIJI WATER HAVE DONE TO THE LANDOWNERS...AFTER THEY HAVE GIVEN THEIR WORD FOR SO-CALLED PARTNERSHIP.

    Now, there is NO PARTNERSHIP.It is a DICTATORSHIP, as Fiji WATER MANAGEMENT have got to the ears of the ruling government.

    The local people needs scholarship,education funding.which is trickling in sporadically to the local communities.Fiji Water build kidergarden schools as shells,no yearly supply of teaching materials.IT IS ALL A SHAM.

    FIJI WATER is SO GLOSSY & COSMETIC on the regional and global scene..............just ask the local 6 villages of the heartaches it had caused them psychologically and mentally, IT IS DEMEANING, FRIGHTENINGLY SATANIC AND CORRUPT.What more??Just ask thru the blog.chow.

  5. It is no surprising that Fiji Water has stop fundings for the six villages.The truth on the matter is quiet simple.They are all FAKE LANDOWNERS.Fiji Water has seen the light of the day.

  6. The benefits from Fiji Water needs to go to the traditional landowner,the family of Bicilevu who is the Kai Raviravi who has his traditional Yavutu or ancestral site at Koroveiniu on the bank of Yaqara river.We are thankkfull for this present Government for setting the record straight on the Yaqara land issue.