Article

The world according to... Reed Paget

He’s travelled the world and chronicled its problems, now Reed Paget is solving them, starting with local water for local people

Over a glass of (tap) water, Alice Lascelles finds out what makes the founder of award-winning environmentally sound bottled water brand Belu tick


“As a reporter, I discovered you can talk about the problem but it doesn’t necessarily mean anybody will listen. So I decided to put my camera aside and instead of talking about the problems, see what the solutions might be and actually try and do something. ”

“Being ecologically friendly and profitable is not a contradiction – it used to be. Shareholders would say, ‘Why bother? No one is looking.’ But now the public is starting to care and banks are starting to think about offering funding to non-profit organisations. So change is coming. ”

“Our bottle was the first carbon-neutral product to be introduced to Tesco – they now have 70,000 carbon neutral products on their shelves. ”

“When I was 15 I went to Alaska and worked in a fish cannery, doing quality control, 20 hour days. It was so mundane… I rebelled and that led me into journalism. ”

“After university I travelled from China to Vietnam and Cambodia, to central and southern America, to Africa and Russia, all between 1989 and 1992, filming the collapse of communism and the impact of American neo-colonialism. It opened my eyes to a lot of things. ”

“All consumerism has some impact. So the first step is to consume less in general and consume the most ecological option as a choice. ”

“We don’t export, but we can export our ideas. Our provenance is local. People around the world should be drinking their local water. ”

“We need more green business leaders. We need the people from Greenpeace to put down their placards and pick up their balance sheets and the reins of industry. ”

“I was in China in 1989 at the same time as the pro-democracy demos and was there in Tiananmen Square – you could hear gunshots and see smoke rising and bodies in the streets, and I filmed
for a week. I also filmed in Israel during the Gulf War, with Saddam’s scuds landing all around us. ”

“My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: work for someone and learn before you jump in – because you’re going to make mistakes, and it’s better you make those mistakes while you’re earning a salary rather than paying for them out of your own pocket. ”

“I’ve been more successful by admitting that I don’t know things than by pretending I do. ”

“What drink would I describe myself as? After the most inspired nights in cafés in the jungles of Guatemala and Mexico, I would say a bottle of Tequila. ”

“My family and I are taking a boat to Brittany for our first summer holiday in 10 years. We’re conscious that trains and boats are definitely the way to travel wherever possible. And we should embrace that. After all, it’s no adventure just flying in somewhere. ”

“If enough bars and restaurants pushed a bit more, or paid a bit more, to get their glass sorted, that would dramatically increase the amount of recyclability we could get from glass. ”

“Belu comes from the Latin for beautiful. You could get the world’s best engineers together and they could never create something as beautiful and as perfectly engineered as water. ”


WHO'S BELU?

  • Bottled water brand Belu donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects and has so far funded projects in India, Mali, Madagascar and Bangladesh.
  • Belu launched the UK’s first compostable bottle (made from corn), which degrades a million times faster than plastic bottles.
  • Belu is made in the UK and is a ‘carbon-neutral’ business.
  • Awards for Belu and Belu founder and CEO Reed Paget include Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and New Statesman Social Enterprise of the Year.

Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine - September / October 2009

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