What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


According to this article that Gail turned me onto, there’s a new EU ruling that bans companies that sell bottled water from stating that water helps prevent dehydration. Sheesh. No wonder the EU is in deep trouble.

Let’s start with the least ridiculous part of the story first. Why do companies need to state the obvious? Are people not buying enough water packaged in eco-hostile little plastic throwaway bottles? After all, the bottled water manufacturers don’t manufacture water, they just manufacture bottles (or buy them cheaply) so that people can drink a few sips from them, throw them away, and buy still more plastic bottles. The more bottles that are sold and thrown away, the more that sector of the economy grows. How about spending all of that money on providing clean, drinkable water to municipal water supplies everywhere so that people don't have to buy bottled drinking water?

Do people really not know that drinking water in its pure form or mixed with various flavorings will keep them from getting dehydrated? I can see the lawsuit now: Some idiot didn’t know that he needed water, because no one ever told him, so he never drank any liquids and died of dehydration. His family then sued the bottled water company for not publicizing the fact that drinking water from time to time is a good thing.

After participating for a short time on a US running forum where 90% of the discussion was on losing weight and “staying hydrated”, I had to conclude that people in today’s society don’t have sense enough to stop eating when they’re full, or to drink when they’re thirsty. It’s sad.

Anyway, on to the second half of the story, which is the EU’s decision to ban water sellers from stating that, “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration”. Yes, that is the exact wording as given in the article. The company doesn’t even come out and actually say that water prevents dehydration, let alone “cures” it, they beat around the bush like the cosmetics companies that state that their product “if used regularly may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles”, or my favorite from many years ago, a company that stated in a print ad that its product had “totally nugatory effects”.

Now for the best part of all: After a three (yes, 3!)-year investigation, the EU determined that the statement could not be scientifically proven, and banned water bottlers from making any claims about water reducing the risk of developing dehydration, under threat of two years imprisonment. I wonder how much the investigation cost the Brussels administration and the EU as a community? Did someone actually search the scientific literature for studies “proving” the obvious? Do we need formal studies to tell us that eating food reduces the risk of starvation, or that breathing air reduces the risk of suffocation? Or that using common sense reduces the risk of engaging in stupid behavior?

If this incident had been on a comedy show, I would have laughed and dismissed it as an over-the-top joke. As it was, I had to search for other related news stories to confirm it and make sure that the date line was not April Fools Day. Apparently it’s true, although I still have nagging doubts, so I can only shake my head in wonderment about the absurdity of the whole incident and conclude that when one form of stupidity encounters another, they mate and produce an exponential increase in stupidity all around. Even if the story’s a hoax, the tendency of stupidity to reproduce exponentially still provides a good sociological model.

[Bottled water before and after pictures from Wikimedia]


  1. Hi Ellen,

    This EU water story is so stupid it really IS hard to believe. I have seen (and done) a lot of stupid things in my life, but this rates right up there at the top of the stupidity chart. I like your idea of stupidity reproducing exponentially. I can see that happening everywhere, especially here in Issaquah. The traffic consultants for the city seem to think that the solution for all of our traffic problems is the permanent, landscaped bollard. Consequently more and more professionally landscaped bollards (also known as islands) are sticking out into some of the most congested traffic in the city. The post office parking lot had a "make-over" recently to include several new bollards. Who knows why the bollards were placed in the post office parking lot, but I think that the idea behind the bollards in traffic is to slow down the already slow traffic and thus relieve traffic congestion(???). Many of our Issaquah citizens try to ignore the bollards and drive over them. The most successful of these seem to be the young mothers (stupidity reproducing exponentially) of Issaquah in their Humvees (and other land barges). Perhaps I am being unfair here. The moms in the land barges are at least taking action (and taking risks) to remove the bollards for the benefit of us all.


  2. I suppose I am being pretty stupid to equate islands with bollards. They are different, after all. Islands are generally flat , while bollards are usually posts that stick up. I just like the word "Bollard". We have few true bollards, but many islands in Issaquah. Just replace any reference to "bollards" above with "permanent, landscaped islands". That should take care of that. Gail

  3. Gail, I'm not sure exactly what the bollards are, but in Seattle there are many residential streets that have what I imagine them to be - raised peninsulas that stick out from one side of a two-lane street reducing it to barely one lane. In fact, I was driving on one of those streets last night, thinking how stupid those landscaped peninsulas (or bollards) are.

    At least islands form a roundabout (which I hate, especially as a pedestrian), but the landscaped peninsula has to be the stupidest idea a traffic engineer has ever come up with. Of course, in Seattle, stupidity compounds itself with dense plantings of trees and shrubs that obscure the view of oncoming vehicles in the opposite lane, providing the perfect setup for a head-on collision in the lane that's open. A further expression of stupidity is cars that park almost in the open lane, effectively blocking it, too.

    OOOh ... a new topic ... stupid urban planning strategies!