Monday, March 22, 2010

On World Water Day, A Closer Look at the Bottled Water Industry

It is no secret that the bottled water industry is a booming $5 billion a year industry. We are constantly bombarded with ads that tell us that our tap water is unsafe and that we should opt for the so-called "cleaner" and "more refreshing" alternative.

While marketing campaigns for Dasani, Aquafina and FIJI can be found throughout various media outlets, the topic that doesn't get much attention is how the bottled water industry operates. Annie Leonard, the Director of "Story of Stuff Project", opines:

Today is World Water Day--a good day to pause and consider the insanity of a global economy where 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water while other people spend billions on a bottled product that's no cleaner, harms people and the environment and costs up to 2,000 times the price of tap water.

To mark the occasion, I'm joining with a bunch of North America's leading environmental groups to release our new film: The Story of Bottled Water. It's a seven-minute animated film that, like The Story of Stuff, uses simple images and words to explain a complex problem caused by what I call the 'take-make-waste' economy. In this case, we explain how you get Americans to buy half a billion bottles of water a week when most can get it almost free from the tap in their kitchen.


The thing is, there are a lot of inconvenient truths the bottled water ads don't mention:

• Bottled water is subject to fewer health regulations than tap water. In 2006, Fiji Water ran ads bragging that their product doesn't come from Cleveland, only to have tests show a glass of Fiji water is lower quality than Cleveland tap. Oops!

• Up to 40 percent of bottled water is filtered tap water. In other words, if you're concerned about what's in your tap water, just cut out the middleman and buy a home water filter.

• Each year, according to the Pacific Institute's Peter Gleick, making the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. takes enough oil and energy to fuel a million cars. And that doesn't even include the fuel required to ship, fly or truck water across continents and state lines.

• Three-fourths of the half-a-billion plastic water bottles sold in the U.S. every week go to the landfill or to incinerators. It costs our cities more than $70 million to landfill water bottles alone each year, according to Corporate Accountability International.

Here is the 8 minute video that Leonard has put together to simply explain how the bottled water industry has used manufactured demand to convince the population that they need this product:

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