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Archive for the ‘May Day Network’ Category

Isn’t this appropriate for ‘the waterguy’ with a time management challenge when it comes to regular blog updates… but less of me and what’s with the blog action water thing?

 ‘Blog Action Day’ (capitals because it’s official) is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. This year’s topic is water…

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water, which equates to one in eight of us. A lack of basic sanitation (water dependent) causes 80% of diseases and kills more people each year than war does. Children are especially vulnerable and as a parent of a child who’s survived dysentery, it’s a most frightening (water borne) illness which we were fortunate to have nursed our child through.

The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation. So simple, yet so challenging, particularly where politics gets in the way to restrict those least able from helping themselves…

For my part, water is an environmental issue, a sustainability issue and an issue which deserves a global profile as bloggers of the world theoretically unite in one conversation…

I’m not really into research, but the US, Mexico and China apparently lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. That sounds high to me, but based on this figure, around 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, while more than 80 percent will unlikely ever be recycled.

Which brings me back to where I started out several years ago looking for a better alternative when I realised people won’t stop drinking bottled water just because I think its ecological folly.

I’m pleased, on this particular Blog Action Day, to be able to report how Aquapax is still growing from strength to strength, with a retail listing approaching 500 stores across Europe and with exciting new distribution areas embracing the change we’ve introduced in their own countries.

While it’s frustrating how some UK retailers still won’t talk to us until we can prove with expensive research reports how their particular customers might actually appreciate a more ecologically sensible choice of packaged water, we continue to grow through customer choice exercised within Tesco, Waitrose and Monop (part of Monoprix Group) so this makes three of the largest and most respected retailers in the world.

I’ve updated the ‘where can I buy Aquapax’ listing below with the UK based stores we know about and ask you to please let us know if you’d like to add your local independent retail outlet to this list.

Warm wishes

N

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I’m overflowing with pride (I know it’s a sin, but read on) to announce that Aquapax natural mineral water is officially partnering with 1.618 the first ever sustainable luxury fair being held at the Palais de Tokyo, Museum of Modern Art, in Paris from 15 -17 May 2009.

1.618 is a new multi-disciplinary show presenting the best products and services in Luxury and Sustainable Development industries in an original and contemporary environment, with support from the French Ministry of Culture and the World Wild Fund (WWF).

As the foremost brand of pure natural mineral water in a more planet conscious paper carton, Aquapax is proud to participate in this the first celebration of goods which fulfill the need for luxury without compromise on sustainability.

Open to the public, 1.618 will showcase the best produced luxury goods and services which combine Luxury and Sustainable Development in an innovative and contemporary setting.

As lifted from their website / press release, the 1.618 event considers contemporary luxury as ethical, essential, aesthetical and immaterial. Luxury has always defined itself through notions of timelessness, heritage and value. Yet luxury also concerns itself with: –
• The will to preserve and protect natural resources
• Research and innovations that aim to reduce social inequalities
• The respect of human rights
• The exploration of the sensory system
• Self-discovery through object appreciation
• An understanding of rarity
• The preservation of skills and techniques

Today, luxury inscribes itself in sustainable development and aims to create new desires within a responsible framework. Luxury is Sustainable Development / Luxury is our planet. The sustainability of luxury depends on its capacity to change, innovate and create new myths. aka AQUAPAX 🙂

For more details, visit the 1.618 website

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OK, hardly a press announcement, but it is ‘earth day’ after all and this is our contribution…  Can only hope the site condron picks up on it and we get some ratings for our efforts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTH0GZLRo_M

stay happy – it is a beautiful earth after all and it’s down to you (and me) to keep it this way… 🙂

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Today was the day when we finally got to see our latest creation – aka Aquapax in its 2009 production guise. It’s one thing to sign off a piece of flat artwork, and another thing to have a mock-up made in a different material, to give a degree of design perspective. But seeing the real thing as it’s come off the production line and ready to be warehoused prior to shipping to customers is something you can never ‘know’ for certain until you see it.

I can honestly say that I’m happier with the real thing than I was with any of the computer generated images, despite their function being to portray an item in its theoretical ‘best light’. There’s simply no substitute for feeling the paper folded around the water and knowing that without absolute commitment, we would never have got this far! As I sit here looking at the subtleties of what I believe is an iconic design, our new Aquapax already feels like a pair of old jeans, that ‘just fit’ whenever you put them on.

I had a conversation with a very professional journalist on Friday who was reflecting that ‘packaged water’ is an unnecessary drink. I conceded that I still drink tap water at home, but that in an increasingly obese world, it’s irresponsible to keep knocking water in favour of flavoured beverage options. The fact is that our ‘packaged water’ Aquapax gives health conscious thirsty people the best option possible for calorie free natural hydration, with a natural mineral balance that you can taste for its purity, and the absence of anything that shouldn’t be there.

Aquapax is quite simply healthier than other beverage options, and (to be fair to our plastic competitors) while any packaged water has a lower carbon footprint than any other packaged beverage option, Aquapax is uniquely packaged in the proven lowest carbon footprint package option compared to all other portable packaged waters available.

That is why we claim Aquapax as ‘a pure thirst for the environment’ along with our other trade mark, ‘think inside the box’ – it just makes ecological common sense. I’ll caveat that with “unless you’re in a position of impossible luxury, where you have fresh drinking water on tap whenever and wherever you feel thirsty!” 🙂

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Talk about speaking too soon – my last weblog celebrated the sun shining on the righteous (we live in hope) yet it seems I opened my mouth too soon by at least a week if not by the proverbial ‘long way’. This week has been absolutely dismal and the forecast for tomorrow is looking a touch concerning for anyone who doesn’t have webbed feet.

It’s been a good week thus far, all things considered and today, I met with a nice man who works for a rather large supermarket and who has the potential to be a very nice man. Buyers aren’t all bad you know and sometimes you have to trust your instincts and speak from your heart. Only time will tell if we get a listing with the company in question, however, it still feels completely liberating to come out of a meeting knowing I’d given something my honest best shot, and seen a buyer smile in the process.

Can’t forecast the future too specifically; nonetheless, we remain eternal optimists and preparations are well underway for Hagar and I to travel off to the Wokingham Food & Drink Festival from tomorrow, while our wonderful friends in the ChickPea Charriot are taking their Aquapax off to visit Camp Bestival on ye magical Isle of White.

Irrespective of the weather, there’s always someone to talk to and engage with as we continue our revolutionary quest to change the bottled water market, with or without the supermarkets in support.

Besides those people we meet who have real ecological passion, there are always more than enough folk looking for freebies – some of whom delight in tasting things they already know they’re never ever going to buy. If you’re in the neighbourhood, why not come on down, as some cheesy game show host once said. We’re not too cheesy and we would relish your company.

ps. for those loyal customers who keep me smiling, I’ll be doing a tasting at Fresh and Wild in Clapham on Friday, in case you can’t make it along over the weekend. 🙂

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We’ve been completely blessed with the summer so far this year, as weekend shows promoting water are no fun at all when it rains. By and large (why do people say that?) we’ve had tremendous weekend weather wherever we’ve been and the last couple of weekends have been no exception. We camped over (literally) at Hatfield House on the weekend of the 17th August and had the luxury of travelling back to homes this weekend when we did the Hampton Court Show. Pity really as we missed the chance to sample some wonderful Stowford Press cider.

We’ve taken to going indoors in the food halls or cookery demonstration halls at the shows, as folk tend to make those destination points when they visit a country show; even if they do often wander in with an overpriced bottle of warm and plastic tasting water in their hands that they’ve begrudgingly procured from some grubby ice cream van.

We’ve been giving out free tasting samples – often abused by the few at the expense of the many, as the reality is people aren’t yet completely familiar with Aquapax, which is why we’re there in the first place. (Also to promote our Best Bottled Water of 2008 win and to try and make contact with a few retail chairmen or board members having a day out with their families.) A food hall environment is not only dry when it rains outside, but it’s an area where people stay open minded and receptive to finding out more about something new and innovative. Buying a genuine high quality product at a bargain show price is also great for marketing, as people don’t like being exploited when they’re in a captive market scenario.

Hagar continues to be a real brick and the mainstay of our outdoor event management committee. I generally turn up with a car full of stock (and as much ice as my little freezer can produce) and we work the stands together, but his enthusiasm for engaging with even quite challenging potential customers has made him quite the expert on Tetra Pak recycling and indeed on the subject of water quality as well.

This weekend was a double hitter, as we also sponsored the water for the children’s’ parade at the London Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday and I was really disappointed not to have been able to get down there for a few souvenir photos of the event; our first large scale outdoor venture.

As companies grow, people take for granted a promotional give away for a few thousand people, but when you’re a small business these things cost real money and not being there to share in the atmosphere makes them somehow more expensive.

There’s something quite poetic about our 2 London events being so high profile yet so distinctly different as the Institute of Directors Annual Convention at the Royal Albert Hall and then on to the largest street party in Europe. We know our product quality spans all market segments, so it’s only appropriate that we spread our marketing budgets accordingly too.

The prize for the silly objection of this weekend goes to an unknown and rather sad faced lady who had a go at Hagar – despite his genuinely cheerful disposition – and levelled the criticism that our bottled water price is outrageous, (we weren’t selling the bottled water madam, they were the props) based on the fact that her son apparently pays just 1p for a plastic bottle of water in Dubai.  There’s no real answer to some people not getting a marketing proposition so badly, and we must try and find some more formal way to recognise their extreme reactions without causing a food fight… 🙂

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Why? we keep on being asked… Because I grew up on a beach and every time we are out walking on a beach or in the countryside, we are distracted by plastic bottles which will never ever go away… all it took was one plastic bottle too many to turn an otherwise rational businessman into the ethical and environmental entrepreneur within.

The funky and compact Aquapax is the result – a majority sustainable and wholly recyclable paper carton containing a premium quality pure mineral water that’s even suitable for infants (no nitrates). We had to look beneath a protected nature park in Germany to get our Aquapax packaged with suitable quality water. The Tetra Pak carton we’re using is already accepted over there as the only one-way package that’s exempt from package deposit tax (because it’s environmentally advantageous) which made the alliance pitch with the packer a little easier. – Yes we have carbon balanced the business so there is less net carbon impact from food miles than with a comparable UK bottled water (if you could find one that tastes the same) and besides, I’m not aware of any plastic bottles starting their life in oil wells located across the home counties…

It’s all about customer service now, as more and more retail and wholesale customers give us space for a trial, we simply blow them away with a responsive and focused customer care that big business pays marketing consultants to talk about. It’s really not that difficult – just close your eyes every now and then and visualise who your customer is and what they want – that’s what customer service is fundamentally all about.

Aquapax are currently on sale throughout the UK and Ireland through independent minded wholesalers and retailers, with a loyal distribution base that keeps on growing encouragingly. In fact there’s a great correlation between how our sales are going and the degree of take up for carton recycling across the UK. Carton recycling is currently up to 85% of all councils in the UK – not bad really despite the urban myth still suggesting they’re impossible to recycle (wrong!).

If you believe strongly enough in something, sometimes, you just have to create the change yourself. I know there are others who understand – they’re the ones buying Aquapax and we’ve just encountered our first competition in the North American market…

Join the revolution why don’t you? Plastic is passé and glass is oh so pretentious…  🙂

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