Discussion Forum
Coop's Ethical Water

From Jack Hughes
Friday, 9 October 2009

The Co-op has recently started selling 'Ethical Water'. One may now buy 6 half-litre platic bottles of finest Powys spring water for a mere £1.95, from which the Co-op will generously donate a whole 20p towards clean-water-in-Africa projects.

Am I the only person who finds this infuriating? As far as I'm concerned, ethical water comes out of a tap. This kind of thing just seems like a sop to liberal (note: small 'l') sensibilities. Can someone please explain how bottled water transported from Wales can be 'ethical'?

And don't start me off on their 'Ambient Sausage Rolls' (I swear....)

From Jason Elliott
Sunday, 11 October 2009

God knows who dreamt up that crock of spin.

My son goes to school in Brighouse, so after collecting him last Thursday I stopped at the Co-op in Elland to get him a bottle of water as it takes quite a while to get back to civilisation and he was thirsty.

Ethical water on sale? Fat chance!

Digging deep in the cold drinks fridge I managed to locate two small bottles of Evian (french water.) That was it...

I got the duty manager out and asked him how he felt about the Ethical Water noises his bosses were making and he said that as far as drinks went, his bosses were Coca Cola who supplied the fridge and he had to stock it in the way they told him.

I'm afraid, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we are being lied to, spun to and generally mis-led.

Tesco, Sainsbury, Co-op, Morrison: Different bottle, same (unethical, profit-driven) p1ss.

From Georgina B
Monday, 12 October 2009

Your son goes to Brighouse, you drive to collect him. Not green surely? What's wrong with our local schools and walking there? And on the water front... If you know he's going to be thirsty as it's a long way back, bring him a bottle of tap water from home.

From Jason Elliott
Monday, 12 October 2009

Yes Georgina, my son goes to a school in Brighouse, which is where he lives for most of the week with his mother, as if it's any business of yours. He stays with me on Thursday nights and every other Friday.

The only reason I left my home in Spain of nearly 20 years and came to live here, was to be able to have reasonable access to him when his mother and I separated and she took him to live in Brighouse.

As an expert on the local schools, I'm sure you know that none would be prepared or allowed to take him for one day a week.

As I'm sure you also know, there are no direct public transport links between the Upper and Lower Calder Valley areas. I could get a train back with him from Brighouse which would involve a three-quarter mile walk followed by a (very) cooling 45-50 minute wait on the platform there (not great for a nine year old through the winter) before catching a train to Halifax, followed by another wait there, admittedly in a waiting room this time, and then catching a train to Hebden Bridge where we could then get a bus home arriving at around 6pm. I know this because I researched it, together with the bus routes. Did you, before you decided to publicly criticise me?

As far as the water goes, he normally comes straight out of class and is not thirsty, however, on this occasion he had been running around in the playground before I got there and said "Dad, I'm thirsty, can we stop and get a drink please?" Unfortunately, I didn't happen to have a bottle of fresh tap water handy.

As, unlike you, I do not hide my email address on this forum, you could have asked me this privately instead of forcing me to share the details of my private life with everyone else.

None of this has any bearing on the fact that the Co-op water is not particulary ethical or available.

From Howard B
Monday, 12 October 2009

Jason, I don't suppose Georgina was trying to be venomous or expose your private life.

Forums eh? Keyboard heroes!

From Lynn R
Monday, 12 October 2009

Jason, I think you will find that the answer is "blowin' in the wind".

But then how green is it to admonish the plastic production industry by making second-hand plastic products from their waste, as opposed to marketing products which are genuinely environmentally friendly and biodegradeable?

From Paul D
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I always like these plastic water bottle type arguments as they often bring out the smugness of the greens. I have spring water that doesn't require purifying, no chemicals are added to it, it isn't pumped to my house and any excess then treated as waste. Doesn't make me a nicer person or even a decent environmentalist.

Many people who claim to be green commute to work, drive their kids to school, shop at major chains - we're all sort of weak in certain areas. So those who hate the idea of ethical water could maybe donate 20p a week to the same cause? Less posture and more action - yes point out the environmental cost of bottled water, but most of the solutions lie within our own actions and the impact we can have on those close to us. Address consumption and you address the environmnet, the outrage may not be the water but the desire to consume, patterns of consumption and in fact shop?

From Anne Williams
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Just a point on the trains from Brighouse:

There are regular direct trains -roughly hourly - 3.49pm; 4.49pm etc. –from Brighouse to Hebden Bridge –it takes about 20mins.

I think they’ve only been running for a year or so - don’t want anyone to think they don’t exist in case the service gets taken away!

From Jack Hughes
Wednesday, 14 October 2009

This BBC page may be of interest;

The main point I was trying to make was that I grow increasingly annoyed with the Co-op's frankly pathetic efforts to appear 'right-on'. As far as I'm concerned the store's motto should be "check the sell-by date" or indeed "check your change"... I must admit that I do see bottled water as an unnecessary luxury, and would suggest that a scheme which gives barely 10% of the retail price to a doubtless worthy cause is somewhat tokenistic. Those who might wish to stick with the good old "corporation pop" and donate their £1.95 directly can do so via


From Paul D
Thursday, 15 October 2009

I'm sure you dind't intend any offence Jack, but I think we need to be careful with comments such as 'check your change'. It implies that the staff are (collectively) either inumerate or dishonest and I don't think that's the case.

The real issue (for me) is that a lot of comments (not necessarily yours) about the co-op have a go at the staff - those paid little more than the minimum wage to deal with a quite demanding public.

So many middle class snobs, who've never worked for so little, think the staff are part of any problems at the store. Every time I go in the staff are polite and helpful, they put up with all sorts from shoplifters to yummy mummy type of questions about the whey content of the pre-pached sausages, they tend to be local with a capital L - so don't suffer fools gladly and have worked out that most of the whingers are just passing through - in between a job in London and a house somewhere else when they've got bored of Hebden (and mentioned loudly on numerous occasions that the bread is pre-baked and not fresh like in some Greek Camden bakery where it is but costs three times as much) they will move on and we all know it and put up with it and get by.

So let's hear it for the co-op, the chaotic at times, but locally grounded, ethically aware, fair trade minded employer of many.

Sure the bottled water sucks - so does driving there to shop, shopping, eating too much, throwing away good food......

From Jack Hughes
Thursday, 15 October 2009

Just to clarify, I certainly didn't mean to imply that any of the staff are dishonest, innumerate or both. I was alluding to the fact that in my own experience, the shelf price and till price frequently differ - particularly on 2-for-one offers and the like. I look forward to being undercharged one day.

See new threads: Why Plastic and Coop's ethics