A bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water from Italy and a coffee mug featuring a slogan that suggests its owner didn’t vote for Brexit. What’s the connection between the two? Let me explain.

For many years I’ve been a happy consumer of imported sparkling mineral water from Europe, both in restaurants and at home, without every really stopping to think about my choice. San Pellegrino, Perrier, Evian and all the other well-known European mineral water brands are nice to drink and reassuringly expensive. If you order any of them in a restaurant, nobody is going to think you’re a cheapskate.

Better Listen to Greta

In the UK’s Brexit Referendum back in 2016, I was proud to cast my vote for Remain – I didn’t see the point of Brexit. But since then, partly because of Brexit, but mainly because of Richard Attenborough and Greta Thunberg, I’ve come to see my habit of drinking bottles of imported mineral water in a whole new light.

If you ever stop and think about it, lugging crates of bottled water on large diesel trucks over 800 miles from Bergamo to Bermondsey isn’t exactly great for the environment. It involves a lot of food miles. These days I pay much more attention to where my food and drink come from.

It’s a long way from Bergamo to Bermondsey

Happy to Buy Local

For me, habitually asking for San Pellegrino in restaurants over the years had become a sort of Pavlovian thing – a default setting if you will. But I now realise this wasn’t very smart behaviour, to say nothing of all the single use plastic involved. In the UK we produce some very good sparkling mineral water of our own – think Harrogate, Buxton and Highland Spring. I’m not sure that San Pellegrino is a better tasting product than any of these, yet somehow the cachet of a fancy European brand seduced me.

Which brings me back to Brexit. Not a popular subject with anyone these days, I know, but it will have a bearing on how we do things in this country for many years to come. Since we left the EU, it has become clear, sadly, that the politicians in Brussels want to punish the UK for being rude and leaving the club. All sorts of new trade impediments have sprung up, in the form of import duties, taxes, handling fees and various non-tariff barriers. Basically, anything we import from Europe is now more expensive than it used to be before Brexit. A shame, but entirely foreseeable. We did, after all, vote for the Europeans to do these things to us.

San Pellegrino, I’m Going to Miss You

So, to the nice people who bottle and export San Pellegrino I just want to say this to you – due to a heady mix of patriotism, EU red-tape and, more importantly, the pressing need to reduce my family’s food miles, I’m sorry but I can’t buy your mineral water anymore. From now on it has to be UK-sourced mineral water, in recyclable bottles…or a SodaStream!

Stop and think about the food miles

Far be it from me to suggest that we should all stop buying European sparkling mineral water brands, but it certainly seems something we should at least think about. Yes, they always look nice on the table in a fancy restaurant, but it’s just not sustainable.

Steve Shaw

Bishopsgate Copywriting

Steve Shaw