I’m just going to say it: Bottled water is a huge waste of money. I’ve heard every argument in the book for drinking it, and I’ve yet to be convinced that it makes any sense for a person living in America to drink it. I’m so fervent in my belief that I made a short video about it:
Although the video is pretty hokey and meant to be light-hearted, I made a great effort to fill it with actual facts about bottled water and tap water (my sources are listed at the end of this post). 24% of bottled water is just repackaged tap water, and the brands that actually come from a spring or a glacier or… whatever? They give you no guarantee of cleanliness or safety, since they’re so loosely regulated.
And the cost difference is just ridiculous. In a 1999 report on bottled water, the National Resources Defense Council found that:
A five-year supply of bottled water at the recommended intake of eight glasses a day can cost more than $1,000. An equivalent amount of tap water costs about $1.65.
My campus sells Aquafina at $1.50 for 20 ounces. That’s $9.60 a gallon, compared to just $0.002 for a gallon of tap water! And according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the average American drank 29 gallons of bottled water in 2007. That’s $278.40! And how much would that much tap water cost you? Just under 6 cents. Seriously.
Bottled water certainly has a place in this world. There are 1 billion people in this world that do not have access to a reliable source of drinking water. But those aren’t the people that are getting bottled water. For Americans who have highly regulated public water readily available, bottled water is simply a choice.
And it should be an easy choice to make. Even if you went out and bought a nice $20-$30 stainless steel or aluminum water bottle to fill up every day, you’d come out way ahead of paying for bottled water. In addition to fattening up your wallet, you’d make a huge environmental impact, as well.
Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, 167 for each person. Durable, lightweight containers manufactured just to be discarded. Water bottles are made of totally recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, so we share responsibility for their impact: Our recycling rate for PET is only 23%, which means we pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year–more than $1 billion worth of plastic.
– (Fast Company.com article, emphasis added)
The evidence against bottled water piles up as high as the empty bottles in the landfill: drinking bottled water when tap water is readily available doesn’t make any sense, no matter how you look at it.
The video in this post was made as an entry for the Take Back the Tap video scholarship contest. And now, it’s made me a finalist! The video was a lot of fun to make, and yes… I make a cameo at the end!
“Take Back the Tap” by Food & Water Watch
“Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?” by the National Resources Defense Council
“Message in a Bottle” by Charles Fishman on FastCompany.com
“Bottled Water’s Success Story Continues” by the Beverage Marketing Corporation