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We think that cutting out your bottled water habit is the perfect New Year’s goal for 2011. So does the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG recently posted their 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard, and the results show that most water isn’t as as crystal clear as most water companies would have you believe. According to the EWG report, most water companies are elusive about some common right-to-know questions — “Where is this water from?”, “Is the water purified? How?”, “Have tests found any contaminants in the water?” When water companies keep quiet about sourcing and purity, it kind of makes you wonder why you’re paying more for bottled water than gasoline right?

Image © matei via morguefile
Image © matei via morguefile

What the EWG Scorecard Found

The EWG bottled water scorecard found that among the ten best-selling brands of bottled water, nine — Pepsi’s Aquafina, Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Crystal Geyser and six of seven Nestlé brands refused to answer at least one question about bottled water sourcing or testing, leaving consumers in the dark about what they’re actually drinking. One mainstream brand, Nestlé’s Pure Life Purified Water does discloses both its water source and treatment method on their label and offers an 800-number, website or mailing address where consumers can request a water quality test report. But this was a rare finding. Overall, 18% of all bottled waters fail to list the source, while a full 32% disclose zero facts about treatment or purity of the water.

Bottled water companies operate on a don’t-tell-consumers-jack system. This works well for them, because in spite of the secrets and lies that fuel water companies, consumers WILL still blindly purchase bottled water. Read on to see just how many consumers love bottled water.

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Bottled Water Rules the Planet

  • According to Reuseit, about 60 million single-use drink containers were purchased in 2006, many of them plain old water.
  • NRDC notes that sales of bottled water have tripled in the last 10 years, hitting an astounding $4 billion mark, with more than half of all Americans drinking bottled water on a regular basis.
  • Mother Nature Network reports even higher bottled water sales, pointing out that estimates place “Worldwide bottled water sales at between $50 and $100 billion each year, with the market expanding at the startling annual rate of 7%.
  • Even if you’ve kicked the bottled water habit, it doesn’t mean you don’t pay for it. An analysis by EWG partner Corporate Accountability International (CAI), shows that most states are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on bottled drinking water annually for state employees. Yup, this is your tax dollars at work.

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Bottled Water Trashes the Planet and Your Health

What’s the impact of all this bottled water bliss? A planet full of trash and poor health consequences to boot. Although plastics are increasingly easy to recycle, only about 23% of people recycle their plastic water bottles. A family of four, who fails to recycle, will contribute a whopping 7,000+ plastic bottles to the landfill annually. The EPA estimates that 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were tossed in the trash in 2008 and the Ocean Conservancy notes that plastic bottles are one of the most prevalent sources of pollution found on our beaches. Even if you do recycle, it takes lots of energy to make plastic water bottles and even more energy to recycle them. Additionally you’re wasting non-renewable resources, as it takes 3 fl oz of crude oil to make one plastic water bottle.

Plus, if you think your bottled water is the picture of health, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Not only do plastic water bottles contain chemicals like BPA, but the trash created by water bottles absorbs even more pre-existing organic pollutants like BPA and PCBs, which then seep into our soil and water supply. Plain old tap water is subject to more stringent regulation and testing than bottled water according to the NRDC; a fact that’s clearly evident in the new EWG 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard. While city tap water cannot contain ANY confirmed E.Coli or fecal coliform, no such rules exist for bottled water. The FDA bottled water rule allows a “Certain amount of any type of coliform bacteria in bottled water.” The FDA even notes that bottled water is a low priority and thus the agency allocates fewer than one staff person who is dedicated to developing and issuing bottled water rules.

Image sulokemathai

How to Break the Bottled Water Habit

This is the year to stop drinking bottled water. It’s not healthier and plastic bottles are trashing the planet. Best of all, the typical family of four can save over $1,200 per year just by quitting bottled water – even if the family has to buy water bottles and a water filtering system! Here’s how to break the habit.

other images via morguefile & sxc.