More on America’s most ridiculous industry: bottled water. Where are the sources of that water?
Yeah, that’s sustainable.
But that only accounts for 55% of the bottled water. What about the rest?
The other 45 percent comes from the municipal water supply, meaning that companies, including Aquafina and Dasani, simply treat tap water—the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home—and bottle it up. (Weird, right?)
Not weird at all. It shows that you can create a fake problem (there is something wrong with the tap water!), develop a consumer market around it, and then sell people the same water they would be drinking if they turned on their faucet. Now that’s a capitalist success story! More on that:
Then there’s the aforementioned murkiness of the industry: Companies aren’t required to publicly disclose exactly where their sources are or how much water each facility bottles. Peter Gleick, author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession With Bottled Water, says, “I don’t think people have a clue—no one knows” where their bottled water comes from. (Fun facts he’s discovered in his research: Everest water comes from Texas, Glacier Mountain comes from Ohio, and only about a third of Poland Spring water comes from the actual Poland Spring, in Maine.)
Despite the fact that almost all U.S. tap water is better regulated and monitored than bottled, and despite the hefty environmental footprint of the bottled water industry, perhaps the biggest reason that bottling companies are using water in drought zones is simply because we’re still providing a demand for it: In 2012 in the United States alone, the industry produced about 10 billion gallons of bottled water, with sales revenues at $12 billion.
As Gleick wrote, “This industry has very successfully turned a public resource into a private commodity.” And consumers—well, we’re drinking it up.