Watched a great Penn & Teller “Bullshit!” episode a few months ago on the bottled water industry, which confirmed what many of us already suspected: Bottled water is not more pure than tap water, nor more healthy, and the bottled water industry is environmentally nasty. Not to mention the fact that most people can’t tell bottled water from tap water in a blind taste test (in the episode, they crafted some fancy “high end” water labels and affixed them to empty plastic bottles, which they then proceeded to fill with water from a rubber garden hose in the back alley; the footage of diners at a fancy restaurant being invited to comment on the taste of the “gourmet” waters was priceless). Loved the close-up of the Dasani bottle label, which proclaims proudly “Source: Milwaukee municipal water supply.”
Because Penn and Teller cuss so much (well, Penn does), and because their shows often seem skewed or riddled with personal agenda checkpoints, I sometimes find their credibility dubious. So it’s nice to find an op-ed in the New York Times coming to exactly the same conclusions.
Nor is there any health or nutritional benefit to drinking bottled water over tap water. In one study, published in The Archives of Family Medicine, researchers compared bottled water with tap water from Cleveland, and found that nearly a quarter of the samples of bottled water had significantly higher levels of bacteria. The scientists concluded that “use of bottled water on the assumption of purity can be misguided.”
Oh, and there’s the small matter of highway robbery:
Ounce for ounce, it costs more than gasoline, even at today’s high gasoline prices; depending on the brand, it costs 250 to 10,000 times more than tap water.
Bottled water is the ultimate consumer suckerpunch, yet remains phenomenally popular. Do people simply not know it’s a consummate waste, or do they know and buy it anyway? The whole phenomenon is beyond me.