After all, who wouldn't want a glass of "pure glacial water filtered through lava"?
"Welcome to Iceland. Drinks are on us." The tagline from Iceland's latest tourism campaign is a powerful reminder that we should all be drinking more tap water. In an effort to get more visitors to pass on disposable plastic water bottles, the tourism board has launched a somewhat humorous campaign promoting Icelandic tap water as a luxury brand.
It's called Kranavatn, which is Icelandic for 'tap water', and is described as the cleanest and greatest tasting water in the world – "pure glacial water filtered through lava for thousands of years."The campaign follows on the heels of a survey that found two-thirds of people buy more bottled water when travelling than at home, and only 26 percent of travellers take refillable water bottles on vacation. Fear of contamination was cited as the biggest motivator (70 percent) and convenience came second (19 percent). Contamination, however, is not a concern in Iceland. As a press release explains,
"Unlike in other countries, 98 percent of Icelandic tap water is chemically untreated and measurements show that unwanted substances in the water are far below limits, according to the Environmental Agency of Iceland."
This means that visitors can refill their stainless steel water bottles, no matter where they are in Iceland, taking advantage of any operational faucet. A Kranavatn-branded bar will greet visitors at the airport, starting mid-June, and Kranavatn will be labeled as a "luxury drink" in various hotels, bars, and restaurants.
Here in North America, where sales of bottled water continue unabated, we could learn a lot from this campaign. While it's true that some towns do not have safe tap water – and this is deeply unfortunate – the majority do and people should be drinking it instead of bottled, saving money, environment, and health, all with one simple action.
It will be interesting to see how Iceland's campaign affects the amounts of trash typically generated by its visitors, and whether it will see a reduction in the coming years. But it does seem like a great idea that other countries should adopt, both in relation to tourists and local residents.