In 2008, the bottled water market cornered 28 percent of the liquid refreshment market, according to the Beverage Marketing Association. Bottled water has become big business, but the industry is not without its critics 1. The upside of bottled water is that the convenience of it has people drinking more water instead of soda or other sugar-laden drinks, but the downsides are numerous.
It's Just Water
Not only is bottled water just water, but it just might also be water from your very own municipal water plant -- or one just like it. As much as 25 to 30 percent of bottled water comes from municipal water sources, and may or may not undergo further purification before bottling, according to the National Resource Defense Council 235. But unlike tap water, which requires frequent testing for contaminants, bottled water doesn’t have to meet the same standards or undergo the same testing.
- Not only is bottled water just water, but it just might also be water from your very own municipal water plant -- or one just like it.
- As much as 25 to 30 percent of bottled water comes from municipal water sources, and may or may not undergo further purification before bottling, according to the National Resource Defense Council 2.
Cons of Recycling
Tap water costs next to nothing, or around $0.002 per gallon, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2004. Bottled water costs anywhere from $0.89 per gallon to over $8.26 per gallon, the Food and Water Watch reported in 2007. Using filtered water costs just $0.31 per gallon and eliminates many of the contaminants often found in water supplies, the Environmental Working Group states.
It's a Resource Drain
Landfills are filled with water bottles. Although plastic waters are recyclable, as many as 86 percent of the discarded bottles end up in the trash rather than the recycling bin, according to the Container Recycling Institute. Just making the bottles uses 1.5 million barrels of oil each year, enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year, the Earth Policy Institute reports.
It May Contain Contaminants
Interesting Facts About Going Green
Laboratory testing conducted by the Environmental Working Group and reported on its website in October 2008 by lead author and senior scientist Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., found contaminants exceeding levels allowed in tap water in bottled water 4. Out of 10 popular brands, four had bacterial contamination and the rest contained 38 different contaminants, with an average of eight contaminants per brand. Two brands contained contaminants in excess of California’s safety standards for water. Cancer-causing agents were found in samples from five states that exceeded voluntary bottling manufacturer's standards. The results of a four-year review of bottled water conducted by the National Research Defense Council showed that 25 percent of samples tested contained contaminants 235.
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- Business Ethics: Is Bottled Water a Waste?
- National Resource Defense Council: Bottled Water Contamination
- National Resource Defense Council: Marketing a Perception of Purity
- Environmental Working Group: Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants
- National Resource Defense Council: Publications in Print
- Rosario-Ortiz F, Rose J, Speight V, Von Gunten U, Schnoor J. How do you like your tap water?. Science. 2016;351(6276):912-914. doi:10.1126/science.aaf0953
- National Resource Defense Council. Bottled water: Pure drink or pure hype?. Updated February 1999.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bottled water. Basics. Updated April 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Camping, hiking, travel. Updated February 2018.
- Kim SK, Park SW, Kang SM, Kwon HK, Kim BI. Assessment of the erosive potential of carbonated waters. J Korean Acad Oral Health. 2015;39(4):273-279. doi:10.11149/jkaoh.2015.39.4.273
- Quattrini S, Pampaloni B, Brandi ML. Natural mineral waters: chemical characteristics and health effects. Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2016;13(3):173-180. doi:10.11138/ccmbm/2016.13.3.173
- James LJ, Mattin L, Aldiss P, Adebishi R, Hobson RM. Effect of whey protein isolate on rehydration after exercise. Amino Acids. 2014;46(5):1217-1224. doi:10.1007/s00726-014-1680-8
- Fleming N, Vaughan J, Feeback M. Ingestion of oxygenated water enhances lactate clearance kinetics in trained runners. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14(1):9. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0166-y
- Cleveland Clinic. Electrolyte drinks: Beneficial or not?. Updated April 2019.
- Li L, Seeram NP. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. J Agric Food Chem. 2011;59(14):7708-7716. doi:10.1021/jf2011613
- Kalman DS, Feldman S, Krieger DR, Bloomer RJ. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9(1):1. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-1
- Cleveland Clinic. Alkaline water: Don’t believe the marketing hype. Updated October 2013.
- Weidman J, Holsworth RE, Brossman B, Cho DJ, Cyr JS, Fridman G. Effect of electrolyzed high-pH alkaline water on blood viscosity in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016 Dec 1;13(1):45. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0153-8
- Mumme K, Stonehouse W. Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(2):249-263. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.10.022
- Cleveland Clinic. Hydration. Updated May 2019.
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.