The problem with bottled water

I’ve often wondered how the bottled water industry got such a huge leap. Just a dozen years ago, I would have thought purchasing bottled water was a waste cash. Today, you can expect to spend as much as $3 for a bottle of water at a movie theater (apparently the nearby water fountain is inadequate). I still think purchasing bottled water is wasteful, especially since people are willing to spend more per quart of water than per gallon of gasoline. Although I agree that there are benefits to buying bottled water (such as in the middle of a third-world country where you should not drink the local tap water).

I found the following article from my friend Jason. It puts the entire issue into perspective and makes me really wonder why people are still willing to pay for water. I recently went shopping with a friend that didn’t worry about buying a case of bottled water, yet he’s concerned about money. He fell ill to the cryptosporidium epidemic in Milwaukee back in the early 90s, so he could justify the cost of bottled water. However, I suggested a water filter would cost him so much less and would contribute much less to the recycling bins. I personally use a water filter to take out certain sediments that would otherwise clog my coffeemaker, but I’m not opposed to drinking tap water.

Bottled water also results in some distressing issues. In addition to the environmentally damaging consequences of bottling and shipping water in plastic bottles and disposing of the empty containers, I found the following statement too real and absolutely disturbing:

“Of course, tap water is not so abundant in the developing world. And that is ultimately why I find the illogical enthusiasm for bottled water not simply peculiar, but distasteful. For those of us in the developed world, safe water is now so abundant that we can afford to shun the tap water under our noses, and drink bottled water instead: our choice of water has become a lifestyle option. For many people in the developing world, however, access to water remains a matter of life or death…

“Clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 billion a year beyond current spending on water projects, according to the International Water Management Institute. Improving sanitation, which is just as important, would cost a further $9.3 billion per year. This is less than a quarter of global annual spending on bottled water.”

Bottled water does seem to epitomize the excesses of our lavish lifestyles.

Jason’s article: Taking bottled water to task

NY Times article: Bad to the Last Drop