That we can so easily turn our noses up at the perfectly good drinking water piped into our homes while others in the world struggle, does offer a dramatic contrast and that makes the purchase of bottled water a good point to tap someone for a relevant charitable donation. But the claim that Co-operative bottled water is ethical because each sale helps fund clean water projects in Africa is spurious.
Bottled water does have a negative environmental impact. For example, it leads to waste by encouraging the needless production and transportation of bottles, most of which are plastic and end up taking too much space in landfill.
But the Africans’ plight is not caused by people in Manchester drinking bottled water from Buxton Spring, say. So acting against this social injustice, fails to reduce the negative impact of bottled water.
Co-operative bottled water is only ethical if we accept that a wrong committed in one arena can be righted by doing good in another.