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ARTICLES

Bottled Water Is Overpriced

Recent studies have concluded that bottled water is no safer (and, in some cases, no different) than regular tap water, and costs of producing the drink and its effect on the environment are alarming.

So-called purified or natural spring water is frequently nothing more than simple tap water. For example, Pepsi admitted to filling Aquafina with public water.

A staggering reality is that municipal tap water costs only a fraction of the cost of bottled water. (The same $2 to $2.50 you spend on a liter of bottled water will get you about 1,000 gallons of municipal tap water.)

Another eyebrow-raising fact: The #1 ingredient in soda is water. Yet, a bottle of water is MORE EXPENSIVE than the same-sized bottle of soda! That's just crazy or, more likely, just brilliant marketing.

Comparing with gasoline gives a sense of how expensive bottled water is:
  • A gallon of gas costs about $3.
  • Asssuming that a 1-liter bottle of water costs about $2.50, a gallon of that same bottled water would run about $10. So water, life's most necessary substance, costs about 3x more than gas when it comes in a plastic bottle. Essentially, then, we are paying 3x the cost of gasoline for a product that is virtually free!
Other factors contributing to the high cost of bottled water include:
  • The EPI estimates that:
    • Worldwide about 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water every year.
    • Making these bottles to meet US demand alone requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually or enough to fuel 100,000 US cars for a year.
  • The costs of transport--moving every bottle by rail, ship, or truck and keeping it cool during transport. (In some cases, well known brands like the French brand Evian are shipped to various destinations around the globe further adding to the staggering cost of bottled water.)
  • Operating costs--including required workforce--of the factories where the water is bottled.
  • Markup needed to make the profit desired by shareholders.
  • Complex purification processes employed by many bottled water companies.
(Note: We gratefully acknowledge the following sources of information: EPA; Environmental Working Group; money.howstuffworks.com/bling-water1.htm; "National Geographic News," Feb 24, 2006; and back2tap.com/bottled-water-consumption.)
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