Fiji Water: Guilt by the Bottleful?

Kim Conte
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fiji water

Just when it looked like Fiji water was gone forever, the bottled water company is up and running again -- much to the delight of delicious-but-overpriced bottled water enthusiasts.

It was a rapid about-face for a company that just three days ago shut down its operations and bottling plant in Fiji and fired 400 workers in protest of a large government tax increase (about 15 Fijian cents a liter or 8 American cents). The owners have since agreed to comply with the tax, and so it's back to business as usual.

But one unexpected outcome of the entire situation is the fact that this bottled water drama-rama actually shed some light on one of the more hotly debated questions surrounding the bottled water industry:

Should we feel guilty drinking Fiji water?

In the past, critics have argued that Americans should feel guilty drinking Fiji water simply because a whopping 53 percent of the people who live in Fiji don't have access to clean, safe water.

Surely, you see the inherent irony here: Americans -- who have access to clean, safe, FREE water are paying (in the case of Fiji water) a ridiculous amount for water that's been imported from a country in which the majority of its citizens can't get water.

But experts commenting on this recent standoff are highlighting the fact that the water actually benefits Fiji's economy as a whole: It provides good jobs for hundreds of Fijians who work in the factory and is actually the number one export of any kind from the country in dollar value. In terms of helping Fijians learn to participate in the global economy, one could argue that Fiji water is valuable to the country (and not just us).

So does that mean we can stop feeling guilty for drinking it? I suppose that all depends on which side of the bottled water debate in general you typically fall.

Do you buy Fiji water or do you think it's too expensive?

 

Image via FijiWater.com

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