Bottled water is a ridiculous extravagance. Let’s all switch to tap water instead
July 10th, 2007
In a bizarre turn of events, it seems that the United States is actually taking a lead on eco policies.
Environmental groups have long argued that bottled water is a ridiculous luxury at a time of global warming. The product has a huge environment footprint, given the fuel required to ship vast quantities of the liquid half way around the world, the energy required to produce all those billions of plastic or glass bottles, and the environmental costs of disposing of billions of empty plastic bottles in landfill sites a year.
Yet the popularity of mineral water shows no sign of abating, perhaps because many younger consumers have been brainwashed into being mistrustful of the stuff that comes out of the tap. In America alone, spending on bottled water has surged to $16 billion (£8bn) this year.
This is despite the fact nutritionists have been telling us for years that when tap water is, in most cases, just as good as bottled water. It is also paradoxical that the two biggest-selling brands of mineral water in the US – Pepsi’s Aquafina (which has a 13 per cent share) and Coke’s Dasani (which has an 11 per cent share) – are purified municipal water anyway!
Well the City of New York, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has now taken a stand aimed at stamping out the consumption of bottled water. According to a report by BBC News, the city authority has launched a campaign that seeks persuade New Yorkers to wean themselves off bottled drinks and to quaff tap water instead. The move is backed up by an advertising campaign and the local authority is also trying to persaude Manhattan restaurants to help out – by promoting tap water.
Some restaurants in California have already banished mineral waters from the menu and are now serving only tap water, and according to the BBC, some in New York are looking to follow suit.
This is a welcome move, which I hope will soon traverse the Pond, as I’m sick of that look on the faces of restaurateurs and bar staff here in the UK when you ask for tap water rather than the bottled variety – it’s as if to say “Oh we’ve got a real cheapskate here”.
The Bottled Water Association argues that it is unfair to single out an industry that is promoting recycling and introducing biodegradable packaging. Nonetheless, if even New York is attacking this particular industry, you can expect governments around the world to follow suit.
This could be seriously bad news for sales of bottled water. If you happen to own any shares in the world’s largest pushers of bottled water – which include PepsiCo, Nestle and Coca-Cola – I would recommend offloading these quick before the mainstream fund managers catch on (it usually takes them a few weeks). It might make Coca-Cola think twice before pushing ahead with its mooted takeover of Perthshire-based Highland Spring.
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