Bottled water is a blight on the planet. America has the cleanest, safest drinking water on earth. Yet, in one of the most incredible marketing feats in the history of capitalism, the beverage industry has somehow convinced Americans to pay $15 billion a year, and growing, for bottled tap water.
On average, bottled water costs over 500 times more than tap water. Somehow, however, Americans have been persuaded that bottled water is safer, and better, than tap water. In fact, almost all bottled water comes from public water sources–it is just tap water. There are very possibly some serious health risks associated with drinking water that has been transported in heated conditions in plastic bottles. In truth, bottled water is less healthy than plain old tap water. And of course it is impossible to taste any difference, as water is tasteless. I challenged folks in my office, offering to pay $100 to anyone who could distinguish bottled water from tap water in a blind taste taste. If they lost, they had to give $100 to a water charity. I had no takers.
Less than 20% of the plastic bottles used for bottled water are recycled. The rest of them, over 1.5 million tons per year, end up in landfills and littered across the nation. They do not decompose.
If this were nothing more than another example of American waste and excess, it would be unfortunate, but common. What makes this story particularly sad however, is that the commodity we waste billions of dollars on–water–is one of the most precious and rare things on earth.
Over 3.5 million people die every year from the effects of unsafe drinking water. 43% of those deaths are from diarrhea. Think about that. And 84% of the people who die every year from drinking unsafe water are children under the age of 14. That is over 8,000 kids who die horrible deaths, every single day, because they don’t have access to safe water. The money we Americans waste on bottled water in a single year would be enough to save the lives of those children, by drilling wells in their communities that would last 25 years or more.
May I humbly suggest we all try a little experiment? Instead of buying bottled water, just try refilling an existing bottle with good old tap water. I guarantee you it will taste as good or better than the plastic bottled variety. Keep track of how much money you save in bottled water purchases, and after a few months send that savings to Blood:Water Mission (www.bloodwatermission.com). Remember that $1 buys water for one African child for one year. So for the cost of a bottle of Dasani or Aquafina you could ensure that 2 or 3 African children have clean safe water for a year.