This decade has been marked by, among other things, the meteoric rise of bottled water sales. Bottled water, a largely unnecessary product, became the number two selling bottled beverage due to successful marketing campaigns that told consumers bottled water was safer and tastier than tap water. And sure enough millions of people bought it—substituting expensive bottled water for nearly-free tap water. But after years of double digit sales growth, the bottled water industry experienced its first year over year sales decline in 2008.
The slip in sales could be attributed to several factors, including: the publication of studies showing that bottled water isn’t necessarily any safer than tap water; environmental concerns over the impact of all those plastic bottles (we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour in this country); and a desire to cut superfluous spending.
But the bottled water industry isn’t about to go down quietly. Desperate to convince consumers that we still need bottled water, producers have dreamed up new ways to differentiate the newest generation of bottled water from ordinary tap water: producers are adding sugar, flavoring, vitamins—even oxygen to the water, and launching ad campaigns that promise sweeter, healthier, energizing hydration.
Wow! Sounds great, if not for the fact that all that stuff just adds up to empty calories and wasted money. There’s nothing better for the human body than pure H2O. Describing vitamin water as “better than nature” or oxygenated water as a life-prolonging elixir is pure propaganda; furthermore additives like sugar and electrolytes that turn water into caloric indulgences are inadvisable and unnecessary. Calories, vitamins and minerals should ideally come from natural food sources, not from artificially supplemented bottled beverages.
Another problem with re-designed bottled water is that the bottle itself has changed little if at all. Plastic water bottles are still the same low-recycled content, petroleum-based containers that use up millions of gallons of oil each year to manufacture and transport and pile up in our landfills (only a small fraction of plastic water bottles are recycled).
Don’t fall for marketing hype. Designer waters are a waste of money and resources. For more information that separates fact from fiction when it comes to bottled water, visit greenmatters.com.
By Crissy Trask for Intent