That's what the marketers would have us believe. Just look at the labels or the bottled water ads: deep, pristine pools of spring water; majestic alpine peaks; healthy, active people gulping down icy bottled water between biking in the park and a trip to the yoga studio.
This animated video (which runs for 8 minutes) covers how the water bottle manufacturers have created a demand for a product that we don't need. Or just scroll down to read our top 5 solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit.
In reality, bottled water is just water. That fact isn't stopping people from buying a lot of it. Estimates variously place worldwide bottled water sales at between $50 and $100 billion each year, with the market expanding at the startling annual rate of 7 percent. Bottled water is big business. But in terms of sustainability, bottled water is a dry well. It's costly, wasteful, and distracts from the construction and maintenance of safe municipal water systems. Want some solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit? We've rounded up five to get you started.
Bottled water isn't good value
Take, for instance, Pepsi's H2GO bottles or Coca-Cola's PUMP bottled water. Both are sold in 750 ml sizes and can be purchased from vending machines alongside soft drinks -- and at the same price. These two brands are essentially filtered tap water, bottled close to their distribution point. In New Zealand most municipal water costs less than one cent per 5 litres or 0.2 cents per litre.
Now consider another widely sold liquid, petrol. It has to be pumped out of the ground in the form of crude oil, shipped to a refinery (often halfway across the world), and then shipped again around the world to your local filling station.
In New Zealand, the average price per litre of petrol is hovering around $2.90. You can buy in the same petrol station a litre bottle of water for over $3.00 which is made locally and only transported a few hundred kilometres as opposed to few thousand.
And that's why there's no shortage of companies which want to get into the business. In terms of price versus production cost, bottled water puts Big Oil to shame.
No healthier than tap water
Bottled water, rather than being roughly equal or perhaps slightly superior in quality to tap water, is, in many cases, actually of lower quality than tap water. Because of differing regulations and requirements for the bottled water industry and municipal water treatment plants, bottled water is under far laxer safety codes and regulations. This difference in safety codes often results in a lower quality of water filling the plastic bottles of bottled water companies.
Bottled water means garbage
Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch (see here for more), that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle beverages is of high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away.
That assumes empty bottles actually make it to a garbage can. Plastic waste is now at such a volume that vast eddies of current-bound plastic trash now spin endlessly in the world's major oceans. This represents a great risk to marine life, killing birds and fish which mistake our garbage for food.
Thanks to its slow decay rate, the vast majority of all plastics ever produced still exist ... somewhere.
Bottled water means less attention to public systems
Many people drink bottled water because they don't like the taste of their local tap water, or because they question its safety.
This is like running around with a slow leak in your tire, topping it off every few days rather than taking it to be patched. Only the very affluent can afford to switch their water consumption to bottled sources.
We still need to be focusing and investing in our water re-courses and municipal water treatment plants. Is New Zealand ready to go totally down the user pays track or can we work together to provide everyone with great tap water.
The corporatisation of water
In the documentary film Thirst, authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies.
Water is being called the "Blue Gold" of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates, and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity's most precious resource.
Multinational corporations are stepping in to purchase groundwater and distribution rights wherever they can, and the bottled water industry is an important component in their drive to commoditize what many feel is a basic human right: the access to safe and affordable water.
What can you do?
There's a simple alternative to bottled water: buy a stainless steel thermos or poly carbonate bottle, and use it. Don't like the way your local tap water tastes?
We can show you how to get great tasting safe water free from harmful contaminants for under 2 cents per litre or less than a cent per glass.
In-expensive carbon filters will turn most tap water sparking fresh at a fraction of bottled water's cost. Call us today on 0800 787 392 and let us show you how we can save you money from not buying bottled water.
If you don't have a water filter then YOU are the water filter.