Water: Buying a Message on a Bottle

Consumers are finally realizing that bottled water is a waste of money and resources.

| Nov. 14, 2008

  • Bottled Water Waste
    What's wrong with bottled water? One problem is that not nearly enough of those plastic bottles actually get recycled.
    PHOTO BY DENISE TORRES/ISTOCKPHOTO

  • Bottled Water Waste

I remember when the name of the game at my gym was pump’n’swig. Weight lifters and treadmill sloggers routinely carried with their sweat towels expensive water in plastic bottles.

Drinking commercial water was the cool thing. In 2006, Americans bought 32.6 billion single-serving bottles of water, and another 34.6 billion larger bottles.

With a slew of brands for basically the same product, image marketers have pushed the envelope — the bottle itself. My favorite absurdity: “Bling H2O,” with the motto “More than a Pretty Taste.” You can buy this water in a “Limited Edition” frosted-glass bottle encrusted with crystals for $40.

The surprising truth is that an estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of bottled water comes from public drinking reservoirs. Pepsico’s Aquafina label shows high-peaked mountains, but the water is from municipal systems, including that of Ayer, Mass., a town next to a military base and a short drive from Boston. Coca-Cola’s brand, Dasani, also uses municipal systems.



I remember a Dennis the Menace cartoon showing Dad, dazed and bleary-eyed at 3 a.m., holding out a glass of water. Dennis says, “That’s bathroom water! I wanted kitchen water!”

It’s all in the marketing.






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