10.24.2013 8:58 AM

One Bottle's Worth of Water Wasted for Every Three Produced

Bottled water industry celebrates its wastefulness.

Photo: Ljupco Smokovski / istock

By Dan Shapley

The International Bottled Water Association is trumpeting the results of a new study that shows the industry uses, on average 1.39 liters of water to produce every one liter of finished bottled water. That rate of water use, it notes, is the best among bottled beverages.

But thought of another way, that means more than one bottle's worth of water is wasted for every three produced. Imagine dumping one glass of water for every three you pour from the tap. Does that sound like efficient use of resources? (Wasting one in four bottle's worth of water is the rate for producing individual-sized servings of bottled water; for the bigger home and office-sized water bottles, the waste is worse, with about two-thirds of a bottle wasted for every one produced.)

There are times and places when bottled water is essential. On the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy's landfall in the Northeast, many of our minds are turned toward weather disasters that can leave people without municipal services--or homes--for days, weeks or months. At these times, a supply of safe bottled water is essential. Bottled water should be part of every home's emergency stores.

But for everyday use, U.S. tap water is far more efficient, sustainable, and just as safe as most bottled water (much bottled water is taken directly from a tap anyway, despite packaging that might suggest mountain landscapes). If taste or chlorination byproducts are a concern in your tap water, consider a home filter. And if you rely on a private well for your drinking water, be sure to have it tested regularly to give you confidence that your supply remains uncontaminated.

And if you find yourself compelled to dump one glass of water for every three you pour from the tap, put out a press release.


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