Fiji Water, tacos and going “green”

Fiji Water, tacos and going “green”

As a reporter covering business and the environment, I don’t want to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. We should cheer, or at least politely applaud, the small changes that companies make to lighten their environmental footprint. But we ought not to fool ourselves into believing that incremental change is adequate to the tasks ahead—of slowing down climate change, dealing with water issues, or eventually making our economy sustainable.


Today’s Sustainability column looks at changes made by Taco Bell and Fiji Water. You’ll see that I’m unimpressed by what’s happening at Taco Bell. By contrast, Fiji deserves praise for looking deeply and systematically at its environmental impact—but its business model of shipping water across an ocean or two is flawed, to say the least. Here’s how the column begins:

You knew you could help save the earth by installing energy-efficient light bulbs or swapping your gas guzzler for a hybrid. But have you heard that drinking Fiji Water and dining out at Taco Bell are supposed to be good for the planet, too?

Fiji Water claims to have become the first big beverage company to go “carbon negative,” meaning that it will offset all of its greenhouse gas emissions and then some. “The production and sale of each bottle of FIJI Water will actually result in a net reduction of carbon in the atmosphere,” the company’s Fiji Green website. “Every drop is green.”

Meanwhile, Taco Bell, a unit of restaurant giant Yum! Brands (YUM, Fortune 500), says that it is saving water and energy by replacing steam tables and cabinets with electric grills. A Taco Bell exec says: “Whether you take shorter showers, turn off the water while brushing your teeth or purchase a Grill-to-Order menu item at Taco Bell, you can save water and impact the environment without even thinking about it.”

Well, maybe. But let’s think about it, anyway.

You can read the rest here.