We’re announcing the end of Thankyou Water.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room. This elephant's been at Thankyou since we started. It's been present in every speaking engagement, media feature and has been a valid discussion point across many dinner tables around Australia. The elephant in the room is that we, Thankyou; an organisation that exists to help change the world, sell single-use plastic bottled water.
Why did we enter the bottled water industry?
If you know our story, Thankyou was founded 12 years ago with the simple idea of combining the money we all spend as consumers to help end extreme poverty. When we began, the bottled water industry globally was worth $50 billion (today, it's worth over $140 billion!). Our first target? Australia's $600m bottled water industry. Our first product? Bottled water. Our first mission? The world water crisis; 900 million without access to safe water, with 4,500 children dying each day from waterborne disease. The approach was simple; instead of the profits lining shareholder pockets, choose Thankyou Water, and you'll fund life-changing water projects in developing nations.
Why are we exiting?
We've said it from the start, bottled water is a 'silly product' and that it shouldn't exist – but while it does, we wanted to provide a better choice in the market that would help bring water to those in need. We naively always thought we’d eventually find a solution that's a win-win for humanity and the planet. We were wrong.
Our team looked far and wide for responsible-ish solutions, from reducing the amount of plastic and waste-water used in production, to challenging the amount of recycled plastic used in the bottle. We explored alternatives with biodegradable products and carton solutions, but to be honest, all-in-all anywhere we landed felt no better than greenwashing. Every new step sounded better and more palatable, it would tick a 'green box’. But, the deeper we looked, and the more we considered the life cycle of the alternatives, we realised it wasn't actually any better for the environment. These realisations have left us facing reality. To reduce the impact that single-use bottled water has on the planet, well, we have no other option but to leave it behind.
We're announcing that this is the end, we're out. As of today, production has ceased, and the last bottles of Thankyou Water will be trickling off shelves over the coming months.
What does this mean for the future?
Of course, for us, this announcement leaves a little gap in our mission (well, actually a big gap, given we make millions of dollars from selling bottled water alongside our personal care and baby ranges!). We exist to empower consumers to help end extreme poverty through their purchase, which we will continue to do with our current ranges (and the new products we'll have in the near future!). So the question is, will we ever fill that gap with a water product again? The short answer is, yes. In time we will. It will look very different, but it will exist to serve both humanity and the planet.
For you? Well, it turns out there are millions of ‘water points’ here in Australia. We know that for most of you, if you stood up right now and took a few steps to your bathroom, kitchen, or even walked to a cafe nearby, you'd find water. All you need is your favourite reusable cup or drink bottle and you’re good to go!
We can’t say goodbye to this chapter without saying a MASSIVE thanks to all of you!
The humble beginnings of Thankyou Water were made possible because of the many of you who believed in the mission, and campaigned to get it into stores. To the teams at 7-Eleven and Woolworths, we’re extremely humbled, and grateful for the support you’ve shown us over the years. Together, we’ve impacted 871,000 lives, and you each have helped us deliver $6.9 million to our impact partners who support the world’s poorest on their journey out of extreme poverty.
While this is the end of Thankyou Water as we all have known it, it marks the beginning of our next chapter. Stay tuned for more updates on what the future of water might look like. Speaking of the future, we're also launching exciting products with plastic-free packaging within our personal care range! So, keep your eyes out for that too.
It’s a big call for us to announce this today, but we do want to assure you that Thankyou is not going anywhere. We have, and always will exist to see a world where not one person lives in extreme poverty. Our purpose burns deep within our hearts and we’re not looking to play small to see this vision achieved. We love this quote;
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.”— Nelson Mandela.
The best is yet to come, and we believe that together we can be that great generation. To get to where we are headed, we know that sometimes we must take action and challenge (even our very own!) systems, structures, and ways of doing stuff. This is not the end, it is just the beginning, so thanks for coming on the journey with us!
— The Thankyou Team