Humans can not survive without water.  Water is so essential for survival that it forms 65 percent of both the earth’s and human body. Water forms a crucial part of life as it is important for food, drinking, and other essential activities.  For years, water has been essentially to replenish the water lost from the human body. Drinking water comes from various sources which include rain , dams, rivers and even the ocean. The demand for water is so high that companies are thriving on just profiting from the freely occurring element.

Why is Water important?

Water is the most important element on earth. Almost all animals, which include humans, require water to survive. Additionally, other organisms and plants require water to grow and survive. Water is so essential that even plants growing in the most dry areas , store water and protect it deep in their stems. Without the water, all life would not survive.

On the other hand, the earth require water to thrive. The water cycle is a crucial process that replenishes all the water lost through evaporation from the earth’s surface, animals , plants and oceans. The water cycle is continuous and even helps to protect the earth from the harmful rays of the sun by forming clouds.

Most importantly , water is important because not only do we use it to have fun in water parks , but also drink and maintain a healthy body.

What is Bottled Water?

Bottled water is simply water that has been commercially packed in containers. The idea of bottled water was first observed in the United states in the late 1700s while in the United Kingdom it had been existing since 1622. During this time, bottled water was marketed as remedy for healthier living rather than for just quenching your thirst.

Glass and Plastic Bottled Water
Glass and Plastic Bottled Water

In the 1990’s bottled water became popular due to the increasing distrust in public sources of water and the increasing waterborne diseases.  However, the use of chlorine founded a method to treat water and making it safe to drink. More importantly , the invention of the Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles provided a cheaper way to package water. PS; before this, the water was mainly packaged in glass bottles, which was very expensive and probably dangerous to handle due to breakages.

The popularity of bottled water has increased over the years. It is so popular that some people cannot drink any other water other that is bottled!

Where Does Bottled Water Come From?

Bottled water is mainly just “normal” water that has been placed in fancy containers. Bottled water came as a concept that initially marketed bottled water as “healthier” compared to tap water. The marketing scheme , which has continued to date, targets uses by using creative terms such as healthy, spring , sterile, mineral, sparkling and purified.

However, most of these terms are just a marketing gimmick to make you pay more than you would if you just took municipal tap water. Furthermore, big corporations have also created a narrative to make bottled water seem safer than tap water.

The Bottled Water Problem

An average American family uses an estimated 300 gallons (1136 litres) of water per day. In the United Kingdom, a single individual uses about 150 litres (40 gallons) of water per day. A healthy human is expected to drink about 1-2 liters (half-gallon or 8 glasses) of water per day.

In the United Kingdom, 4 billion (1.02 billion gallons) litres of bottled water have been consumed by March 2019. The situation is more dire in the United States as people are spending over $200 (£163) billion on bottled water alone per year. The statistics are similar and even more in other parts of the world, especially those that do not have reliable water supply.

The huge consumption of bottled water makes it a multibillion dollar market for leading companies such as Pepsi, Cocacola, Nestle and many others. Infact, its estimated that bottled water business forms over $19 (£16) billion business in America alone. Therefore, it makes it very attractive to these corporations.

The huge consumption of bottled water is a major problem. Here is why;

  • Pollution

Bottled water is served in containers made from single use plastic. Most of the used plastic ends up in garbage bins and in some cases dumped into the environment. The excessive consumption of plastic served water has contributed to the already suffering plastic polluted environment.

Water Bottling Facility
Water Bottling Facility

Despite having a percentage of the total plastic being recycled, most of the bottles and their packaging end up discarded in rivers, which then end up into our oceans.

On the other hand, due to the high demand and the race to gunner more profits, bottled water corporations have built enormous factories all over the world. These factories emit gases that contribute the ever increasing carbon footprint.  On the other hand, the trucks used to transport the water bottles emit enough carbon through exhaust from their diesel engines.

This factories also have efflux that is harmful to the immediate environment. Such has been observed in the case of Nestle in Nigeria. The observation was reported in Netflix’s Rotten Series.

  • Depleting Natural Water Sources

Bottled water , especially that sold under “spring water” has had significant impact on natural water sources. Due to the high demand of “spring” water, bottling companies would physically collect water from streams and fresh water springs. However, the demand was too high and the springs did not provide sustainable ways to keep their consumers quenched.

In light of this demand-supply problem, bottling companies realised that they could drill wells and use the water to pass as “spring water.” The pressure and demand was so severe that they lobbied the FDA to approve borehole water as spring water!

The companies drilled boreholes in proximity to the sources of the springs. However , in the recent years, residents of various places with this wells have realised a sudden drop in water volumes in the  springs. The decline in water levels has been attributed to the companies sucking under water reservoirs dry to the extent that the depletion is visible on ground.

How Aquifer Depletion Occurs
How Aquifer Depletion Occurs

Such incidents have led to the tussle between Nestle and various residents of Osceola Township, Michigan; Santa Fe River, Florida and Six nations indian reserve located South Ontario, Canada. The residents of the aggrieved areas have raised their voices as they claim these companies , mainly Nestle, Pepsi and Coca Cola, have over extracted water to the point of drying their water sources. In some of the areas , such as Six nations Indian Reserve, the water sources have been so dried up to the level that the residents have no running water.

Drying Santa Fe River
Drying Santa Fe River

In Florida, the over extraction of water has caused harmful intrusion of algae and over salting of the previously fresh water. However, despite the massive public out cry, the companies continue to get in the way of environmental preservation.

These companies have been motivated by the demand for bottled water. They have reaped at the cost of $1.1 average cost of one bottle of water, to making an estimated $19 billion in profits. Despite the many efforts to preserve the environment , they may not stop soon enough.

So, next time when you crave that bottled water , think of the cost to the environment. Also it will save you money!