The bottled water in the U.S. is an 11 billion-dollar industry. Bottled water companies are able to make profit on something that is available to almost everyone. How did it get this way? Bottled water was not popular until the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. The main strategy that these companies used to get people to buy their water was marketing to the public and telling them that their water was more convenient, cleaner, safer, and more “up-scale”. They even pictured pristine lakes, forests, and generally beautiful scenery on their bottles to set the illusion that their water came from only the cleanest sources. The reality, though, is that bottled water is unregulated by FDA, meaning bottled water companies do not have to inform public or the government where water comes from or how it is treated, and they are not required to test samples with certified laboratories or notify FDA of contamination problems. Scientists had to do research to figure out what was really going on inside the bottle. In a 2008 research study done by the Environmental Working Group, 10 major brands were tested, chemists ran several tests and detected 38 chemical pollutants–8 contaminants per brand, on average, including heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, caffeine and pharmaceuticals from waste water pollution, nitrate and ammonia fertilizer, & various industrial compounds (i.e. solvents and fertilizers). In addition, an estimated 25-44% of bottled water is simply tap water sold at higher prices, and the “filtered water” label on the bottle might just mean standard water treatment. On top of this, the production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year, and the U.S. drank 9 billion gallons of bottled water in 2008, at an average of 30 gallons per person–which contributes to tons of unnecessary plastic waste.
Decrease your carbon footprint, and choose tap over bottled–it is just one more way you can be environmentally AND economically responsible.