Bottled water, in most cases, comes from the tap

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Since the start of the pandemic, thirsty Americans have drowned their grief in bottled water.

Even before the coronavirus erupted into all of our lives, bottled water was, and has been for years, the # 1 drink in the United States, overtaking carbonated drinks as a growing consumer choice. more health conscious.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated things.

According to a recent report by the International Bottled Water Assn., Sales of bottled water exploded last year “as consumers stocked up to stay at home amid the coronavirus crisis.”

“Per capita bottled water consumption has reached a new all-time high,” he said.

Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for consultancy Beverage Marketing Corp., told me bottled water sales are expected to be even higher this year.

“The success of bottled water is driven by its healthy image and positioning as a drink to be consumed virtually anytime and anywhere,” he said.

Call it a triumph of perception over reality.

The first thing you need to know is that for most Americans there is absolutely nothing wrong with your tap water.

The second thing you need to know is that the leaders in the bottled water market – Coke and Pepsi – just filter and bottle tap water and then sell it for a hefty price tag.

And perhaps most important of all, bottled water is not friend of the environment.

According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans throw away more than 60 million plastic water bottles everyday. Most end up in landfills, gutters and waterways.

“If your tap water is safe to drink, which is the case with most major cities in America, you don’t need bottled water,” said Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“There is an aura of greater security around bottled water,” he told me. “It’s just not valid.”

I’ve heard the same from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves municipalities and watershed districts across the region.

Paul Rochelle, the agency’s water quality manager, said nearly a quarter of a million tests are done on the local water supply each year to ensure safety.

“Not only is our water safe, it tastes good,” he said. “Metropolitan has won the nation’s tastiest tap water three times, including last year.”

Global sales of bottled water reached nearly $ 218 billion last year, according to Grand View Research. Sales are expected to increase by 11% per year until 2028.

“Growing consumer awareness of the health benefits of bottled water consumption is expected to drive market growth over the forecast period,” the research firm said.

These health benefits, however, are questionable.

“To my knowledge, there is no published evidence to suggest that bottled water is healthier or safer than tap water – none at all,” said Dan Heil, professor of exercise physiology. at Montana State University.

“In fact,” he told me, “there is published evidence suggesting the exact opposite.

Heil said that when tap water is filtered for bottling, the process removes beneficial minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The bottled water industry considers these minerals to be “impurities,” he said.

“Although removing impurities from tap water does in fact provide a nearly pure form of water, this fact does not support the hypothesis that pure water is healthier or better for the body than tap water containing natural minerals, ”Heil observed.

The major brands of bottled water are nothing more than municipal tap water passed through a filter. This is what Coca-Cola does with its Dasani water. Pepsi does the same with its Aquafina brand.

“Bottled water is tap water, ”said Marion Nestlé, highly regarded professor emeritus of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

“Companies buy water from municipal supplies at very low prices and sell it back to the public at a huge mark-up,” she told me. “I am not aware of any evidence that bottled water is safer than tap water in places where cities take care of their water. “

Some cities may not do it so well; Flint, Michigan, comes to mind. But, as Popkin noted, most major cities do a good job of keeping water safe.

In 2012, California enshrined in the state constitution that drinking water is a human right. Although tap water in most California cities is passing, some rural areas still face challenges.

The problem is most acute in the Central Valley, where large farms have contaminated the water supply with agricultural chemicals. The state passed a law in 2019 allocating $ 130 million per year to improve this situation.

If you are among the vast majority of Californians with access to clean drinking water, all you do every time you buy bottled water is enrich the conglomerates which, unlike you, simply have. turned on the tap.

“Unfortunately, many people spend their hard-earned money buying bottled water rather than using their own tap water,” said Walter C. Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University. . “It rarely makes sense. “

Yes, bottled water is convenient. But it’s really not that hard to fill a reusable bottle before you leave the house. You’ll save money, and in most cases, you won’t cut corners on security.

For added peace of mind, opt for one of the many filtration systems available for home use. Prices start around $ 20.

And let’s hammer this point: bottled water is really bad for the environment.

A recent study in Europe found that the impact of bottled water on natural resources, including the millions of barrels of oil needed to make all of these plastic bottles, is 3,500 times greater than for the ‘tap water.

And seeing as your bottled water probably comes from municipal pipelines anyway, you’re being taken for an idiot by the roughly $ 200 billion U.S. beverage industry.

Cheers!


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