Bottled Water, Bad for People and the Environment - Food & Water Watch | Food & Water Watch
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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.

Get the Facts in Our Report
Take Back the Tap thumbnailAmerican consumers drink more bottled water every year, in part because
they think it is somehow safer or better than tap water. They collectively spend hundreds or thousands of dollars more per gallon for water in a plastic bottle than they would for the H20 flowing from their taps.

Learn about the various problems with bottled water and why you should switch to tap water. Read our new report, Take Back the Tap: Why Choosing Tap Water over Bottled Water is Better for Your Health, Your Pocketbook, and the Environment.

Read the press release.

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.

Act Now

  • Join our campaign to Take Back the Tap by pledging to reduce or eliminate your use of bottled water.
  • What America really needs is increased funding for public drinking water and wastewater treatment. America has some of the safest tap water in the world but many cities operate water systems that were built before World War I. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there is a shortfall of more than $22 billion per year between the funds available for repair and upgrade of pipes and treatment plants and what is needed to keep water safe for human and environmental health. Support our campaign to Renew America’s Water.