Bottled Water Hype

Fears around the cleanliness of our tap water has created a huge market for bottled water. But a growing body of evidence suggests bottled water doesn’t deliver the health benefits it promises. It may be time to head back to the tap for our water.

There’s no disputing water is the healthiest drink of all.  Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that a can of soft drink a day over four years can add more than 4kg to our weight. Fruit juice is little better, with almost as many calories as standard soft drinks. Grabbing a chilled glass of water, with zero calories, is a dieter’s best option.

Less than pure

Bottled water promises us the purest water but a 4-year study conducted by the Natural Resources Defence Council  found without any real industry regulations there was no assurance that water out of the bottle was any cleaner than tap water. The NRDC also determined that at least 25 percent of bottled water is actually re-packaged tap water. Investigative reporter Brian Howard tracked the water being bottled by larger companies, such as Coca Cola and Pepsi, and found that it was closer to 40 percent.

"People are beginning to feel tricked into buying bottled water," says Janet Larsen of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. "You think the water is pristine, but it has in fact gone through a pretty industrial process."

Environmental foe

According to a 2001 report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) we are using roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic to bottle 89 billion litres of water each year. All the manufacturing and the extra shipping means extra carbon emissions. According to the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC) Canadians are only recycling 36 percent of their plastic water bottles.

"The amount of oil needed to bring a bottle of water to market equals at least 20 percent of the bottle’s volume," says Peter Gleick,