Why we should reduce our excessive consumption of bottled water
The fact of buying bottled water in a convenience store may seem a harmless action, and most of us don’t even think of the consequences that such a mundane gesture does indeed have.
According to James Salzman, the author of Drinking Water: A History, bottled-water craze began with a TV spot launched by Perrier at the end of the 70’s. The charming voice of Orson Welles opened a whole new mass market yet unexplored.
Other celebrities, like Madonna or Jack Nicholson, would later help build the prevailing conception of bottled-water as a symbol of snobbish. And that, we guess, is what it is still today in places like Europe and North America.
The consumption of bottled-water in the UK in 2015 was 2.8 billion liters, compared to 1.42b in 2000 and 30m in 1980. If we take that figure and we think in terms or plastic, we have 2.8b of 1l plastic bottles to dump per year just in one country. Not only that, at the same time we’re filling the globe with rubbish, we’re also contributing to exploit springs.
The scenary is the same in almost all the ‘developed’ countries. But is this really necessary in areas where public water systems supply households with water perfectly safe for drinking? This map produced by City Base Apartments based on sources like CDC (USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the NHS (UK’s National Health Service) shows where it’s safe to drink tap water and where is not.
The arguments of the industry to support bottled-water (and what many people believe) is that this kind of drink is free of bacteria and chemicals, plus it has a better taste. It’s also said that people drink more water when it comes in a bottle, and it’s usually associated to a healthy lifestyle. This statement can be read in the Brittish Bottled Water Producers website: “The trend towards healthy eating and drinking means that more and more people are buying bottled water. We’re mostly made of water. Water is life-giving and vital.”
However, it’s known that numerous companies selling bottled-water take their raw matterial from public water systems, according to the International Bottled Water Association. The case of Aquafina by PepsiCo is probably the most popular. That’s something to take into consideration since the price of bottled water can be over one thousand of times more expensive than served directly from the tap, in words of Estonian EU MP Andres Tarand.
Home filters can be a great alternative for those who are still sceptical to drink tap water. For instance, Brita offers a wide range of products from jugs to pressurised systems to improve freshness and taste of tap water without damaging the environment.
We all buy or have bought bottled water at some point, and this habit of ours is what makes this post to be allocated in the Red Face category. But it’s worth trying to keep it to a minimum and stop depending on it for all dimensions of life. After all, we’re lucky to have safe drinking water coming through the tap, unlike most countries in the world.
Around 2.8 billion liters of bottled water were sold in 2015 just in the UK. The figure equals (and probably exceeds) the number of plastic bottles dumped in the country in the same period. This happens in all Europe and in North America, where public water systems provide housholds with safe drinking water. Plastic is not the only problem. Bottled water consumption also increases the pace at which springs are exploited. It must be said that some of the companies marketing bottled water are taking their raw material from public water systems, as it happens with Aquafina (PepsiCo) and other brands. Home filters come up as a greener alternative.