Bottled Water Costs Consumers and the Environment

In 2009, U.S. consumers purchased 8.45 billion gallons of bottled water, 2.5 percent less than was consumed in 2008. Bottled water sales declined in both 2008 and 2009 as consumers cut back on unnecessary expenses during the economic recession and consumers became increasingly aware of the environmental concerns associated with the product.
Bottled water is expensive
Americans spent $10.6 billion on bottled water in 2009 and paid up to 1,000 times the cost of tap water. And almost half of all bottled water (48.7 percent) came from municipal tap water supplies in 2009. A growing share of bottled water is now coming from tap water.

Bottled water is bad for the environment
Bottled water wastes fossil fuels in production and transport. Bottled water production in the United States used the energy equivalent of 32 and 54 million barrels of oil to produce and transport plastic water bottles in 2007—enough to fuel about 1.5 million cars for a year. Rather than being recycled, about 75 percent of the empty plastic bottles end up in our landfills, lakes, streams and oceans, where they may never fully decompose.

Bottled water is not safer
Tap water in the United States is subject to more stringent federal safety regulations than bottled water. Federal, state, and local environmental agencies require rigorous testing of tap water safety and make test results available to the public. And despite the marketing claims of purity, independent testing of 10 different brands of bottled water conducted in 2008 found 38 contaminants.

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