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Bottled Water - The Scam That's Drowning our World in Plastic


Over the last ten years the world has undergone many changes in technology and the way we live our lives. One of the biggest fads first world countries have embraced is bottled water. When bottled water was introduced here I couldn’t fathom how they would make money because why would anyone pay for water when it was virtually free from the tap. My surprise grew when I realised that people were actually buying the stuff, and now over half a billion dollars is spent every year in Australia on bottled water. Bottled water has become so popular that it now outsells both milk and beer in the United States.

The whole thing doesn’t make sense to me, but apparently it makes sense to millions of people because fifty billion bottles of water are sold in the US every year. So what do I know that they don’t? Well, guess what, I’m going to tell you.

Bottled water is not a necessity - it's a luxury, one that makes no difference to the lives of people in countries where the drinking water is safe. Companies, which make bottled water, have been very clever by creating a demand for a product that no one ever thought to want in the first place. They have used fear and greenwashing to sell their product by making us believe the following falsities:

  • Bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water - It’s not and in fact approximately 40% of bottled water in America has been proven to be filtered tap water-what a rip off. Yes, tap water can have impurities, chlorine and aluminium, but a water filter can extract the minor impurities and you are more likely to get sick from unchlorinated water because of the high levels of bacteria that would exist.
  • Bottled water is fresh from the mountains and induces health - what a load of rubbish. The pictures of mountains or nature in the advertising for this product is not only misleading, it is also contradictory to the industry as a whole. The greenhouse gasses and natural resources used in producing, transporting and refrigerating the plastic bottles is damaging the environment, not to mention the waste created when we throw the bottle away. In America approximately 80% of these bottles end up in landfill - that equates to 30,000 bottles per day.
  • Bottled water tastes better - Actually, no, it doesn’t (unless you have bore water, then I’ll happily concede the point). Many blind tests have been done, including one by the UK watchdog magazine Which, where half the people couldn’t tell the difference and 18% preferred tap water. In Australia The Sun Herald newspaper conducted tests in which 68% of people preferred the tap water and 20% couldn’t tell the difference.

An article in The Australian likens spending your money on bottled water to spending it on cocaine or pornography. They have a point. Why do we question the treatment of animals before we buy meat, and not question the treatment of humans in the production of pornography or the harm done to the environment when we purchase bottled water?  It has been suggested that 7 litres of water and one litre of crude oil go into the creation of one litre of bottled water. I’m no mathematician but that doesn’t seem sensible to me.

The great news is, we can all make a difference and, in fact, many companies and communities already are. In Australia many places are banning bottled water, including the University of Canberra, which is currently phasing out the sale of bottled water on campus, to be completed in March, the NSW town of Bundanoon banned bottled water back in 2009 and a Sydney school Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, banned it in 2010.

If you haven't already you can start by using your own bottle. There are a variety of  BPA free bottles, some include a little filter inside so that you can pour tap water into it when you're on the go, or if you prefer glass Lifefactory has a really cool range of glass bottles.

For those of you who would like to gain some positive karma, why not  lobby your local council, school, or community group to install filtered bubblers and ban the bottle. Change starts with awareness, so spread the word and free yourself and our world from the mountains of plastic that water bottles are causing. 

Watch this eye opening video presented by Annie Leonard and Free Range Studios.

What do you think?