As Americans have become more health-conscious, the water bottle has become a kind of status symbol. Carrying a bottle of water—typically embellished with an idyllic scene of nature—sends a message: I care about my health and I care about the environment. When it comes to beverages, I’m practicing a mindful austerity, deliberately sacrificing flavor and calories for the greater good.
It’s high time water drinkers faced the music. Bottled water isn’t particularly good for the health, it isn’t good for the environment, and it has almost nothing to do with the greater good.
Americans drank 9.67 billion gallons of bottled water in 2012, says research and consulting firm Beverage Marketing Corp. That’s nearly 31 gallons for every man, woman, and child—and an increase of 11 gallons per person since 2001.
Americans spent more than $23 billion on bottled water. Worldwide, sales of bottled water are skyrocketing. Analysts say that only energy drinks and ready-to-drink coffee drinks are enjoying faster market growth than water.
A preference for bottled water makes sense in countries that have legitimate reasons to be worried about continued supplies of healthy tap water. The United Nations says 783 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water. But that’s not where the marketers are focusing. They’ve made their products a luxury item.
Celebrities demand particular brands of bottled water by name, feeding the perception that drinking the right bottled water can promote better health while bringing you one step closer to your idol.
It’s time for water drinkers to face the facts. If you’ve been subjected to the bottled water industry’s marketing campaigns, you have been exposed to some very questionable ideas. Here are some myths about bottled water and the truth behind each one.