Bottled Water Mania

bottledwater.jpgLast year, Americans spent $15 billion on this luxury item.

No, it's not Apple iPods.

Nope, it's not on movie tickets.

It was on BOTTLED WATER!

30 years ago, bottled water barely existed as a business. Today, we spent billions on Poland Spring, Fiji Water, Evian, Aquafina, and Dasani. This year, we are expected to spend $16 billion.

It is quite a phenomenon. The previous generation was raised on tap water and water fountains and now we have today's folks and children drinking bottled water while looking at tap water with disdain, and water fountains with suspicion.

We are also willing to pay bottled water instead of gas to run our vehicle.

Come on here, it is true that bottled water is simply an indulgence that we take for granted. We're buying the convenience. We are told that bottled water is pretty much cleaner than tap water or that water fountain you see in the office. Yet, you can buy a filter for the tap water at home and still save money from buying a 36-bottle pack of Poland Spring. The United States, with Brazil, China, and Mexico have universally reliable tap water.

(Of course, we are stuck with the impression that if you go to Mexico, never drink the tap water. I am still told to buy bottled water, plus you can only drink tap water at the 4-5 star resort hotels.)

But while we take bottled water for granted, one out of six people on this planet have no dependable, safe drinking water. That's about 1 billion people who need water.

For San Pellegrino water, the town of that name has a spigot that runs all the time, giving free water to the local citizens. But if you want the bubbles, you have to get it after the water is processed through the local bottling plant.

For Fiji Water, while their factory spits out more than 1 million bottles a day, half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water.

Is it a more healthy choice? We think it is. A 12-year-old kid buying a water bottle from a vending machine instead of a 16-oz Coke is definitely making a safer choice. Obviously. We are also told that within a decade, our consumption of bottled water is expected to surpass soda.

The fascination with bottled water has led to an explosion of more water-related products. Aquafina, for example, has introduced flavored waters, enhanced waters, colored waters, water drinks branded after everything. Others now tote water with vitamins, water with immunity-type benefits, water to keep the skin younger, and water that gives you energy. It's getting a bit crazy, right?

Remember I mentioned Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani. They do not get their water from any spring or special lake. They get it from ordinary municipal water! You see, they put the water through an energy-intensive reverse-osmosis filtration process. They are essentially recleaning perfectly clean tap water, but with this process, they make sure that the water you are drinking basically tastes the same.

Environmental-wise, we go through about 50 billion plastic water bottles but the recycling rate is only 23%, so about 38 billion bottles are filling up in our landfills.

So has your impression changed after looking at that water bottle?

Fastcompany.com - Message in a Bottle

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Comments

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Posted by: Heidi Cool
Posted on: June 29, 2007 02:17 PM

Also according to a study conducted here,
"15 samples of bottled water had significantly higher bacteria levels than the tap water. Of these 15, the bacteria counts were more than twice as high as the most contaminated tap water sample and almost 2,000 times higher than the purest tap water sample."

I'll stick with good old Cleveland tap water.

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Posted by: Glen
Posted on: July 1, 2007 12:01 AM

Plastic bottle pollution is just horrendous, everywhere I run, all I see is discarded plastic water bottles. I no longer buy bottled water as a personal stand against this trashing of our environment, I use a Hydropal instead, which allows me to drink filtered tap water wherever I am, I got my hydropal from www.hydropal.com.au, regards

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Posted by: Paul
Posted on: October 10, 2007 04:36 PM

""One of the reasons people choose to drink bottled water instead of tap water is because of the perceived purity of bottled water," the researchers observe, and indeed, 39 samples of bottled water were found to be purer than the tap water. However, 15 samples of bottled water had significantly higher bacteria levels than the tap water."

It's helpful to refrain from "cherry picking" information and also helpful to name the offenders.

Most bottled water I buy has the source for the water printed on the bottle, i.e. much Ozarka comes from Pineywoods Spring in Woods County Texas. It is normally stated what kind of additional treatment it receives, i.e. ozonation.

When I read about Cleveland drinking water from their homepage, I wonder how pure Lake Erie water really is, especially with the four treatment plants yielding different results.
"Q: I read about an organism called Cryptosporidium. Does this affect Cleveland drinking water?
A: CWD tests Lake Erie water monthly for Cryptosporidium, a microscopic organism that primarily comes from human and animal waste and is naturally present in surface water. When ingested by warm-blooded animals, Cryptosporidium may cause fever and gastrointestinal illness. To date, our tests of Lake Erie have revealed the presence of only a few organisms."

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Posted by: tom
Posted on: October 15, 2007 10:03 AM

I am in agreement that much can be saved by recycling but i think that having water as a fad is probably the healthiest alternative a generation has ever had. In the sixties and seventies everyone had Cokes and Pepsi even at the cafeteria's,Now we have rampant diabetes the health advantages of this fad should be encouraged with a way to include the envirement, fighting reckless irresposibility in regards to recycling yes, fighting the appealing lure of bottled water over soda no

this issue is really a serious problem...

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Posted by: Sara
Posted on: August 27, 2008 09:40 PM

It would seem that the kid choosing to drink a bottled water is making a healthier choice than choosing a Coke, although I'm not convinced it's necessarily a safer one. If that bottle of water were simply left in the heat, like in a car, the bottle starts to "break down" and the chemicals (PET) start leaching into the water. Same could happen with a Coke, but people don't tend to like warm Coke.

My preference is to put a countertop filter in my kitchen and drink from my tap. That way I also don't contribute my part to the 60 million bottles thrown into our landfills on a daily basis.

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Posted by: RO Filter
Posted on: January 21, 2009 12:28 AM

I think a person now a days would be absolutely foolish to trust the cleanliness of ones water to some bottling company. It has been also proven that bottled water contains the same if not worse quality of water than what is in your tap.

I bought a
home reverse osmosis system and hooked it to my tap at some so that I could be certain that the water I'm drinking is clean, as well as to save money on bottled water. $2.00 a bottle for water..please you gotta be kidding me.

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Posted by: Daniel
Posted on: June 12, 2009 12:45 PM

It's astonishing how much this country spends on bottled water, only to recycle 20% of these plastics (which, as has been pointed out, can leak Bisphenol-A into your drinking water).

I think people are just now starting to understand the value of filtering tap water. Most countries would love to have the tap water that Americans have access to. Filtering this high quality water to an even cleaner and healthier level is just icing on the cake.

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