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February 11, 2019

Why would you bottle International Multi-Award Winning Water in plastic instead of glass?


The short answer is this: we actually launched the original incarnation of Tourmaline Spring called “Raw Water” in glass almost 10 years ago, but because we are a small family owned company nestled deep in the mountains of Maine we soon discovered that we were facing many obstacles.


Here are a few of them:


  1. We couldn’t afford to buy glass bottles in enough volume to make it affordable for the end consumer. This resulted in very little sales because customers refused to pay the amount we needed to charge in order to make ends meet (and interestingly even those who demanded to only drink out of glass still purchased PET from us).


  1. Because of the geographic location of the spring (at almost 1000 feet above sea level in the mountains of Maine), we experience extreme winter conditions. This includes blizzards that will drop 2 or more feet of snow on a regular basis – then sometimes switch to sleet and freezing rain. Then there are temperature drops that cause glass bottles to expand and break not long after they’re loaded on trucks (carrier trucks are not heated). If a few bottles break on a pallet that’s filled with cases of water, it renders the whole pallet useless and has to be discarded due to the dangers of broken glass. This was a costly and potentially dangerous problem.


Then there is the issue of trucks being able to actually reach our bottling facility in the colder months (4-6 months out of the year). Because our spring/bottling facility is located out in the middle of nowhere, it is very difficult to get trucks in and out during these trying months because our road needs so much sand, a massive undertaking that we assume by ourselves with tractors, dump trucks, and sand-spreaders.


Sanding our roads is a very time-consuming endeavor that we’ve learned is essential to our company’s survival. Before we focused so much on sanding our roads, many shipping trucks had gotten stuck – an expense and headache that no one wants.


  1. The weight and the cost of shipping glass bottles added a burdensome extra expense on to the already expensive cost of bottling in glass. Not only did our consumers refuse to pay this expense, so did our wholesale customers and our distributors.


Even in PET, we experience similar issues because the weight of the water eats away at our margins, giving us very little to work with in order to grow at a rate that makes consumers happy.


Until we grow to a much bigger size our economy of scale is very minimal and we just are not able to purchase the mass quantities that would allow us to bring the overall cost down.


  1. Our humble bottling machine actually wasn’t designed for bottling in glass, leaving us to hand fill each one. The cost of labor involved in this process was significant as you can imagine. And, acquiring the correct machine is a minimum half-million dollar investment that we were not ready for.


But the long answer is this – modern economics…


The reality is that the mainstream bottled water industry is one of the most fraudulent, deceptive and competitive consumer industries on earth with 90% of bottled waters literally being tap water. But it’s not just tap water, it’s tap water that’s been filtered and treated, often with clandestine methods and chemicals that further denature the healing potential of water.


For those who don’t know, the United States just got rated “D“  (by the American Society of Civil Engineers) for the quality of the infrastructure that brings tap water to homes and businesses. 


Flint Michigan wasn’t a ’one off’. There are literally millions of lead pipes across the entire country that few are doing anything about. These pipes could be contributing to the diminishing potential of our children health throughout the course of their lives.


Additionally, there are millions of corroding iron pipes that few are doing anything about. Iron toxicity is a serious health threat. 


And, 170 million people in the United States have been confirmed to be drinking radioactive tap water. 


Water is the universal solvent. It could be, and in many cases, is most likely absorbing miles and miles of piping infrastructure possibly consisting of heavy metals, and other contaminants. There is no telling what municipality water piping structures can be like in any one location due to the age of the pipes, the condition of them, and/or the material that was used and/or reused in its construction or reconstruction.


The issue of tainted tap water is sadly commonplace across our country. Additionally, tap water is not free. We pay for it with our taxes, in addition, we are paying to drain lakes, rivers, and aquifers and then process it with both natural and unnatural contaminants before we drink it.


Sadly these gloomy statistics are only a small number of “water issues/incidents”, compared to the greater realities of what we are facing with tap water across North America.


But the point here is that the companies who bottle filtered tap water are the ones who dominate the bulk of the bottled water industry, and because of their wealth, power, influence, and greed - the small, rare, premium companies like ours have to compete with these multi-national giants for shelf space that they can easily afford, and that we can’t. Their competitive edge eats away at our margins, making it challenging for us to get ahead and improve our model.


Another thing these multi-nationals have done is pump out propaganda that confuses many consumers into not being able to know the differences of what makes water healthy, and what doesn’t. But luckily, many are waking up to realize that water is not just water, and this is why - despite the propaganda, we continue to grow.


What are the health implications of drinking water from plastic?


First off, there are many variances between plastic that most people don’t know about, with very few of them being food-grade.


For 15 years we have chosen to use Food Grade certified BPA-free heavyweight bottles that are blown weeks in advance of being filled with naturally cold water. As a result, ‘off-gassing’ of the bottles has occurred.


After they have off-gassed, they are cold filled (our spring water is 46 degrees when it comes out of the ground). Then the bottles are put into heavy-duty cardboard boxes that keep the water in the dark environment it was birthed in. Additionally, we bottle on demand, meaning that our water is bottled as orders come in, so the water is always fresh. And the turnover rates are very high, so the water is not sitting around for very long.


On top of that, and in addition to testing the source, we also test the finished product. For 15 years we have successfully demonstrated that there is no leaching of anything from the plastic bottle into the water including micro-plastics (that sadly abound in most food and water – even organic). We post our results on our website blog for all to see.


Many companies will blow their plastic bottles and then fill them immediately after. This process does not allow the bottles to off-gas and effectively cool down. Whether or not chemical contamination occurs, evidence will be available in their lab testing (if they will actually provide this information for you).


Our mid and long term strategy at Tourmaline Spring


We are a small family owned spring water company in the woods of Maine that has preserved one of the last great authentic sources of spring water on the North American continent. Our source is that unique, that’s why scientists call it a rare geologic phenomenon. Its water that has been filtered by mother nature for 1000's of years, purifying it to the degree that we are officially exempt from treating it.


On top of that, we only bottle the overflow that bubbles naturally to the surface (what mother nature freely offers) and nothing more, ever. We have designed our facility so that it cannot function in any other way. Our mission is to literally set a standard for how an ethical water bottling facility can be represented in this world.


Most people have no idea where their food comes from, and far fewer have any clue where their water comes from. With us, you know as we have one of the oldest, most documented natural sources of spring water on the planet.

You can see the source (online) at our website.


I understand that to the uneducated we just look like one more big corporate entity that is draining the planet and polluting her with plastic bottles for a profit, but we are not even close. Some people assume this because sadly, there is few if any water bottling operations that are like ours.


The difference between a corporate entity only concerned with the bottom line (profit) and a company like ours with a focus on the triple bottom line (people, planet and then profit), is the difference between large-scale factory farms and small, local, biodynamic CSA farms with us being the latter.


To sum it up, the difference between tap (and most bottled water) and Tourmaline Spring, is the difference between mass-produced factory farmed, contaminated, GMO/hybridized, processed foods and local, beyond organic small-farm produced food grown with love.


Once we start having some success we are going to improve our model every step of the way but the realities of doing business in today's market dictate that we have to work within the systems in place until we can get to a stronger position to implement the changes that will improve our business model.


With our success, we pledge to research and implement the healthiest and most environmentally sustainable solutions that are available to us, and the reality is that we are currently not that far off the mark.


The challenges that we as a small businesses face


Many people think that our water is free and that all we’re doing is just going out to a spring, filling up bottles and selling water for a premium price. They don’t understand what it takes to own and run a successful small business. And its always funny, yet sad to see that many of the people who judge us (or others for that matter) are doing very little to create better solutions in the world.


The cost and effort to create and successfully market a brand is unimaginable to most. We purchased the land where our spring sits (preventing a multi-national from drilling into it and destroying it forever, we invested heavily in preserving this great source from both natural and unnatural contamination, we invested in building a gravity feed bottling plant (the only one we know of on Earth). We have invested heavily in doing this the right way and 15 years later we are finally seeing the light.


The other side of this (that is conflicting to us) is that using glass is far from a carbon neutral situation and actually uses more resources than the current PET situation that we have. Creating glass uses a lot more resources to produce, transport and recycle compared to the PET that we use. Sadly all the solutions to solve most if not all of our environmental issues (as it pertains to food and beverage packing) currently exist, and could be implemented if big business were willing to (but they aren't because it costs more and they aren't willing to sacrifice profits at this point). Until big corporations decide to embrace these better solutions, small businesses are left struggling in the wake of their big mess.


At this point, the best option that we in first world countries have would be implementing smarter plastic management systems, and we are seemingly light years from that. But, we're better than other countries when you consider that 5 Asian countries dump more plastic into the oceans than all other countries combined.


The Bigger Picture for the Tourmaline Spring business model


If we lived in a ‘perfect’ world, pure potable water would be an inalienable human right, freely available to all, but that is not the world we currently live in. At this point, it’s going to take caring and committed entrepreneurs who are willing to make less profit in order to create a platform that offers them a voice of reason to help counteract the misinformation being dished out across the news, media, and internet.


As we scale, and with our success, we will launch a line of glass, implement wind, solar and other green technologies on site in addition to helping fund and promote the Primary Water Institute who has drilled hundreds of wells in Sub-Saharan Africa for people who do not have water.


Currently, here are some of the attributes of our water and our bottling plant:


~Complete exemption from treatment. Our spring water is so pure that it exceeds every state and federal guideline for water purity. Because of this, we’ve been allowed exemption from treatment. This makes Tourmaline Spring water of Maine the only commercially available “living” water that we know of in North America and maybe even the world.


~An International Multi-Award Winning Water

On May 22nd2018 Tourmaline Spring won two bronze awards –one for taste and one for design at the International Fine Waters Tasting Competition held in Ecuador out of over a hundred premium waters from all over the planet. This says it all!


~Our source is currently the only Maine company to hold State of Maine Premium Grade Designation. The State of Maine awards this designation only to the highest-quality natural spring water meeting the most stringent quality and testing guidelines developed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.


 ~History that dates back to 1792.Our source has a known history as ”healing” water that dates back over 225 years. (See our history page on our website. Our water was sold before Maine was even a state, and was still Massachusetts.


~ The only bottled spring water company we know of in the world that gravity feeds only the overflow. This means No Pumps or Boreholes. We are NEVER taking more than Mother Nature intended. We only take the overflow that bubbles up naturally out of our spring.


~ The ONLY bottled spring water company we know of in the world that shows you the source online.Most companies will tell you that their spring water is pristine with marketing and imagery that evokes nature in all it’s natural glory but they won’t show you where their water comes from. That’s because most of them are not actual springs who are only taking the water that bubbles up of its own accord. They are using boreholes and pumps to “suck” the water out of the ground. This does not make for a pretty site.


We are the yardstick that all other bottled spring water companies want you to believe that they adhere to but do not show you.


~The only bottled spring water company that we know of that supports a nationwide bottle bill.We believe that every state in the country should have a deposit and recycle their water bottles. That’s why we have been proponents of a nationwide bottle bill since our inception.


~Our bottles are 100% recyclable, Heavy-weight, BPA- Free, Off-gassed, and cold-filled with spring water that is 46° coming out of the ground.



 ~We are True "Stewards of the Environment" with 100% transparency. Again we do and show what others only talk about. We are not corporate bottled water who is only concerned with the bottom line-profit. We are a small bottled water company in the woods of Maine run by health-conscious, environmentally concerned individuals who are committed to creating a better world.


We are creating a standard that we feel should exist within the bottled water industry. Instead of just focusing on the bottom line of profit we have built our business of principles that reflect what’s known as the triple bottom line-people, planet and then profit. This means that we are only making a profit after we have ensured that our product is both environmentally sustainable and good for people’s health.


~Non-detectable levels of radioactive isotopes.Since the first atomic bomb was let off on our planet, everything on the earth's surface has been affected by radioactive isotopes. But Tourmaline Spring has non-detectable levels of radioactive isotopes. We are confident that our product is as naturally pure as a natural product can be. Even the highest quality organic foods have detectable levels of various environmental toxins.


This is something that is unheard of in drinking water. Sadly, manmade radioactive isotopes are present in all particles of air, groundwater, food, etc. The lack of radioactive isotopes in Tourmaline Spring is an attribute of this water that isn’t so much of an anomaly. It's more a fact of the realization that Tourmaline Spring water comes from ‘a time before’ man-made contaminants/pollutants - meaning its been protected underground, shielded from the destructive ways of man in an almost impenetrable fortress of granite.


All this and a lot more go into why Tourmaline Spring is referred to as a rare geologic phenomenon. There isn’t another known source of spring water on this planet with all the combinations of these various and almost multi-dimensional elements. Were it to become more widely known, it might even be considered one of the lesser of the ‘worlds great wonders’.


Thank you for reading and I hope this addresses some of your questions.