While bottled water has been around for centuries, the last 100 years or so saw the creation of what we see today as a vital source of healthy, convenient hydration. Keywords being “what we see”. Bottling companies spend millions in marketing campaigns to convince us that drinking bottled water is the best option for our health; but this is mostly false.
There’s really no reason to think bottled water is healthier or purer than tap. In fact, recent testing suggests that bottled water is, in the case of some brands, just tap water poured into plastic. Beverage companies aren’t required to disclose the origins of their water, or the results of any in-house testing they do for contaminants (except in California). That means that they can pretty much fill those resource-and-energy-hogging plastic bottles with any old H2O, slap a picture of a mountain on it, and charge you an arm and a leg for it. The Environmental Working Group just tested 10 brands of bottled water and found everything from arsenic to chlorine to fertilizer residue in them. Some brands were completely indistinguishable from municipal supplies, and contained byproducts of the disinfectants used in tap water.
Yes, some bottled water comes from sparkling springs and other pristine sources. But more than 25 percent of it comes from a municipal supply. The water is treated, purified and sold to us, often at a thousandfold increase in price. Most people are surprised to learn that they’re drinking glorified tap water, but as we said before, bottlers aren’t required to list the source on the label.
Labels can be misleading at best, deceptive at worst. In one notorious case, water coming from a well located near a hazardous waste site was sold to many bottlers. At least one of these companies labeled its product “spring water.” In another case, H2O sold as “pure glacier water” came from a public water system in Alaska.
Drinking bottled water just gives multinational companies more money, it is not healthier than tap water, it generates tons of waste that takes centuries in decomposing, and turns our oceans into spillways. Consider for a moment the possibility of ignoring the rulings of publicity and marketing, and drink public water.
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