Business

Column: You do know that, most often, bottled water is simply faucet water?



For the reason that begin of the pandemic, thirsty Individuals have drowned their sorrow in bottled water.

Even earlier than the coronavirus blew into all our lives, bottled water was, and has been for years, the No. 1 beverage in the USA, surpassing tender drinks as the selection of more and more health-conscious customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic solely accelerated issues.

In keeping with a recent report from the Worldwide Bottled Water Assn., gross sales of bottled water exploded final 12 months “as consumers stocked up in order to stay home amid the coronavirus crisis.”

“Per-capita consumption of bottled water reached another all-time high,” it mentioned.

Gary Hemphill, managing director of analysis for the consulting agency Beverage Advertising and marketing Corp., advised me bottled water gross sales are projected to be even increased this 12 months.

“Bottled water’s success is driven by its healthful image and positioning as a beverage to be consumed virtually any time and anywhere,” he mentioned.

Name this a triumph of notion over actuality.

The very first thing you might want to know is that, for many Individuals, there’s completely nothing unsuitable together with your faucet water.

The second factor it’s best to know is that the market leaders for bottled water — Coke and Pepsi — are simply filtering and bottling faucet water, after which promoting it at an enormous markup.

And maybe most vital of all, bottled water isn’t any pal to the setting.

In keeping with the Container Recycling Institute, Americans throw away greater than 60 million plastic water bottles daily. Most find yourself in landfills, gutters and waterways.

“If your tap water is potable, which is the case for most big cities in America, you don’t need bottled water,” mentioned Barry Popkin, a professor of diet on the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“There’s an aura of greater safety around bottled water,” he advised me. “That’s just not valid.”

I heard the identical from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves municipalities and water districts all through the area.

Paul Rochelle, the company’s water high quality supervisor, mentioned virtually a quarter-million exams are carried out yearly on the native water provide to make sure security.

“Not only is our water safe, it tastes great,” he mentioned. “Metropolitan has three times won best-tasting tap water in the nation, including this past year.”

World bottled water gross sales hit nearly $218 billion final 12 months, in line with Grand View Analysis. Gross sales are anticipated to rise by 11% a 12 months by 2028.

“Rising consumer consciousness towards the health benefits of consuming bottled water is projected to drive market growth over the forecast period,” the analysis agency mentioned.

These well being advantages, nevertheless, are questionable.

“To my knowledge, there is no published evidence to suggest that bottled water is either healthier or safer than tap water — none whatsoever,” mentioned Dan Heil, a professor of train physiology at Montana State College.

“In fact,” he advised me, “there is published evidence to suggest exactly the opposite.”

Heil mentioned that when faucet water is filtered for bottling, the method removes useful minerals comparable to calcium and magnesium. The bottled water trade considers these minerals “impurities,” he mentioned.

“While stripping the impurities from tap water does, in fact, provide a nearly pure form of water, that fact does not support the premise that pure water is healthier or better for the body than tap water with naturally occurring minerals,” Heil noticed.

The main bottled water manufacturers are nothing greater than municipal tap water that’s been run by a filter. That is what Coca-Cola does with its Dasani water. Pepsi does the identical with its Aquafina model.

“Bottled water is tap water,” mentioned Marion Nestle, a extremely regarded professor emeritus of diet, meals research and public well being at New York College.

“Companies buy water from municipal supplies at very low cost and sell it back to the public at huge markup,” she advised me. “I am not aware of any evidence that bottled water is safer than city water in places where cities take care of their water.”

Some cities could not do this so properly; Flint, Mich., comes to mind. However, as Popkin famous, most huge cities do a superb job of sustaining secure ingesting water.

In 2012, California wrote into the state Structure that secure ingesting water is a human right. Though the faucet water in most California cities passes muster, some rural areas nonetheless face challenges.

The issue is most acute within the Central Valley, the place giant farms have contaminated water provides with agricultural chemical compounds. The state passed a law in 2019 allocating $130 million a 12 months to enhance that state of affairs.

In the event you’re among the many overwhelming majority of Californians with entry to secure ingesting water, all you’re doing any time you buy bottled water is enriching the conglomerates that, not like you, merely turned the tap.

“Unfortunately, many people spend their hard-earned money paying for bottled water rather than using their own tap water,” mentioned Walter C. Willett, a professor of epidemiology and diet at Harvard College. “This rarely makes sense.”

Sure, bottled water is handy. Nevertheless it’s actually not that troublesome to fill a reusable bottle earlier than you allow dwelling. You’ll get monetary savings and, most often, gained’t minimize corners on security.

For additional peace of thoughts, look into one of many many filtration programs accessible for dwelling use. Prices start around $20.

And let’s hammer this level dwelling: Bottled water is admittedly unhealthy for the setting.

A recent study out of Europe discovered that the affect of bottled water on pure sources, together with the hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil wanted to fabricate all these plastic bottles, is 3,500 instances increased than for faucet water.

And seeing as your bottled water in all probability got here from municipal pipes anyway, you’re being performed for a chump by the roughly $200-billion U.S. beverage trade.

Cheers!

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