The Real Cost Of Bottled Water

In light of a new independent study, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a conservation organization, is urging people to drink tap water, which is often as good as bottled water, for the benefit of the environment and their wallets.

According to the study, Bottled Water: Understanding a social phenomenon, commissioned by WWF, bottled water may be no safer, or healthier than tap water in many countries while selling for up to 1000 times the price. Yet, it is the fastest growing drinks industry in the world and is estimated to be worth US $22 billion annually.

The study reveals that the bottled water market is partly fueled by concerns over the safety of municipal water and by the marketing of many brands that portray them as being drawn from pristine sources and as being healthier than tap water. However, some bottled waters only differ from tap water in the fact that they are distributed in bottles rather than through pipes.

In fact there are more standards regulating tap water in Europe and the US than those applied to the bottled water industry.

"Our attitudes towards tap water are being shaped by the pollution which is choking the rivers and streams which should be veins of life," argues Richard Holland, Director of WWF's Living Waters Campaign. "We must clean up and properly protect these waters at source, and not just at the treatment works, so that we can all rest easy in drinking from the tap."

The study also finds that every year 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water.

Toxic chemicals can be released into the environment during the manufacture and disposal of the bottles. Furthermore, a quarter of the 89 billion liters of water bottled worldwide annually are consumed outside their country of origin. Emissions of the green house gas carbon dioxide, caused by transporting bottled water within and between countries, contribute to the global problem of climate change.

"Bottled water isn't a long term sustainable solution to securing access to healthy water," said Richard Holland. "Clean water is a basic right. Protecting our rivers, streams and wetlands will help ensure that tap water remains a service which delivers good quality drinking water for everyone at a fair price."

CLICK HERE for the full report (PDF file).

World Wildlife Fund - Living Waters Campaign

Dr. Mercola's Comments:


This report caused me to change my recommendations. Not because I am not a fan of bottled water, but it just does not seem right to put an excessive burden on the environment with all these plastic bottles, not to mention the energy drain of shipping them.

It seems the best solution is a reverse osmosis water filter which will also remove much of the fluoride that is added to many municipal water supply systems.

The simple way to calculate amount of water most of us need is to drink one quart of water for every 50 pounds of body weight. So the 64 ounces of water would only work for children and small women. The average adult is 150 pounds which would be three quarts of water, and many individuals are over 200 pounds which would be one full gallon of water.

Let me make it perfectly clear that this is one of the most important health habits you could possibly do. Water is essential and if you don't get enough clean water you will suffer health problems. When one sweats more, the quart per 50 pounds of body weight should be exceeded. This is especially important as we approach summer.

Let me remind you of the water basics. Your exclusive beverage should be water. Try to have at least eight glasses of water a day. It would be best to have the water at room temperature.

Ice-cold water can be a trauma to the delicate lining of your stomach, unless you are overheated. However, it is far better to drink the water then limit your water intake due to the timing of meals. Drinking the amount of water you need is the primary point.

Ideally you should sip it all day long and consume about one to two cups of water per hour. If you consume one quart at a setting three times a day, your body will not use most of the water.

If you do use bottled water, avoid purchasing the one-gallon cloudy plastic (PVC) containers from your grocery store as they transfer far too many chemicals into the water. The five-gallon containers and the ones in the clear bottles (polyethylene) are a much better plastic and will not give the water that awful plastic taste. You can add lemon juice occasionally to your water to help flavor it and normalize your body's pH if it is to acidic.

Do not drink unfiltered tap water! Chlorine is a toxic chemical and should not be consumed in large quantities. Brita filtered water costs approximately 24 cents per gallon. However, standard filters are a more effective solution that will bring the cost down to 1-2 cents per gallon. You can obtain them locally from Home Depot or Coast Filtration (800-542-6723).

If you can not afford or do not have room for a reverse osmosis filter, Consumer Reports has selected the Culligan Filter as better choices than Brita filters. They simply screw directly into your current faucet and only take a few minutes to install. They are about $25 at most Walgreen's. Another recommendation of mine is the GE Smart Water, which was top rated in Consumer Reports December 2002.

If you have a water softener, you need to divert the softened water away from the kitchen tap to a reverse osmosis system.

Avoid distilled water as it has the wrong ionization, pH, polarization and oxidation potentials. It will also drain your body of minerals.

I would STRONGLY recommend purchasing "Your Body's Many Cries for Water". It is the best book I know of that documents the usefulness of water. Dr. Batmanghelidj is a physician and does an excellent job. If you are a health care professional this book should be in your library.

Related Articles:

Bottled Water Report

Americans Don't Drink Enough Water

Why I Now Say No to Distilled Water Only


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