The Story of Bottled Water

The Story of Bottled Water by Madeline Ostrander, senior editor of YES! Magazine.

Worried about what’s in your tap?

That’s exactly what the water bottling industry hoped when it developed brands like Dasani, Perrier, and Poland Springs, which promise to be “natural,” “pure,” “clean,” even “sexy” alternatives to tap water.

But the very companies that market those brands, like Nestlé and Coca Cola, are putting public water supplies in jeopardy in communities both in the United States and overseas. They’re selling us a product that is often not any cleaner than tap water, and is a lot pricier.

Bottled water is a scam. The simplest way to understand why is to watch a new, short film released today by the creators of The Story of Stuff. Like its predecessor, The Story of Bottled Water uses simple language and surprisingly charming stick figures to walk you through the perils of the bottled water economy. “Bottled water costs about 2,000 times more than tap water,” says Annie Leonard, the film’s narrator and director. “Can you imagine paying 2,000 times the price of anything else? How about a $10,000 sandwich?”

The Story of Bottled Water film still

Bottled water often comes straight from the tap, sometimes with a little filtering, sometimes not. It is not necessarily safer. For instance, in 2004, the Coca-Cola company had to recall all of its Dasani water from the United Kingdom, after officials discovered the water exceeded the legal limit for bromate, a carcinogen. The Environmental Working Group recently tested 10 brands of bottled water—on average, they contained eight chemical pollutants, no better than tap water.

But there’s something even more insidious about the way that the bottled water industry preys on our public water systems and tap water. Water is both the most basic of human needs and a product of nature. It can’t actually be manufactured, so bottling it up and selling it always means removing water from a public source. As the bottled water market has taken off, we’ve seen public water fountains begin to disappear. Meanwhile, citizens in rural towns have begun to take notice that water-bottling companies are trying to sell off water that actually belongs to them. Communities like Barnstead, New Hampshire have fought hard to keep Nestle from bottling and shipping away their local water.

China’s Living Water Garden
Photo essay: Chengdu’s most popular public park is is a 5.9 acre inner-city natural water treatment system.

We’ve gotten used to thinking we have more than enough water to go around in this country, but it’s not true. According to experts like Peter Gleick, the United States is facing a water crisis that will only get worse in coming years. Already major water supplies like the Ogallala Aquifer and Lake Mead, which together supply water for millions across the Southwest and Great Plains, are in big danger of running dry. Climate change is going to alter everything we know about water—how much stays in our reservoirs, how much snow falls in the Sierras, how our rivers flow, and how much we have available to drink, irrigate our crops, and water our lawns. When we let a private company control, bottle, or sell our water—whether it’s Coca-Cola or the private water operator Thames—we’re giving up some measure of control over our health, environment, lives, and futures.

In May, YES! Magazine will unveil a full issue about how to protect our water and keep it clean and accessible. You’ll read about radical breakthroughs in contentious Western water wars, about a community that bought its water back from private control, about farms that are learning how save water by taking care of soil, and about ways to get all the water you need, even if you live in the heart of the desert.

In the meantime, you can celebrate World Water Day by watching The Story of Bottled Water, and read more about campaigns to protect water in our online and magazine coverage.


Madeline Ostrander

Madeline Ostrander is senior editor of YES! Magazine.

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Life, Liberty, Water by Maude Barlow
A global water justice movement is demanding a change in international law to ensure the universal right to clean water for all.

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10 drinking water scams exposed

The following information was provided by Pete Van Cleave, Water for Life http://www.waterforlifeonline.com/

Everybody is susceptible to being scammed, simply because they want to believe!

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the drinking water business. Politics spawns a lot of lies in the water business since the government is responsible for making tap water. Franchising and exclusive territories also spawn lies.  The internet has spawned much nonsense, too, with it’s uncensored, wild west sort of approach to business. It is truly alarming to see the explosion of internet products claiming to infuse water with magical properties to cure all your ills. These specially altered waters claim to be superior because they’re wetter, oxygenated, clustered, enhanced, magnetized, energized, alkalized, vitalized, or some other pseudoscientific term.  These empty promises simply do not hold water.

We always look for scientific and verifiable data from reliable third parties than can provide the proven facts about the various treatment technologies and how pure water works to support good health.  Education is the only way to battle bogus claims. I have studied water for 20 years and I stand firm in my commitment to bring you the very best possible drinking water and water purification systems based upon the best information available.

Distillation is the only method to produce legally purified water

Since 2002, it is one of three methods to produce legally purified water.  Competitors only selling one thing tend to defend it well, but also get their blinders on regarding other advances.  Biopure Everclean Reverse Osmosis also produces microbiologically pure water according to the NSF without electricity. We believe independence protects consumers best.

Common Reverse Osmosis works as well as NSF Nano filter/Everclean Rinse Reverse Osmosis

Common Reverse Osmosis systems degrade from day one like a filter does. Microbiological contaminants often migrate through the membrane or o-rings. Everclean Rinse Reverse Osmosis prevents the membrane from degrading and keeps the water 100% consistently pure. It costs more, but the value is there because the membrane does not have to be replaced like it does with common RO.  The NSF Nano filter technology gives a non electric system barrier protection against all forms of bacteria for those undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant, or HIV/Aids.

Throwaway bottles are not a problem because they break down in the landfill.

There is an area of floating plastic trash in the Northern Pacific ocean that is twice the size of the continental United States. Experts tell us that dangerous chemicals from industrial waste stick to the plastics and enter the food chain as it is ingested by birds and marine life.  Americans bought about 50,000,000,000 plastic bottles in 2006 and the cost of energy and pollution is staggering! It takes enough crude oil to fuel 100,000 cars for a year to make a year’s supply of those plastic bottles. It takes 1000 years for these bottles to break down 100%.

Energized, vitalized, living, hexagonal, activated, ionized, and restructured water is purported to slow aging, restore cellular balance, or raise consciousness, and promote world peace.

All scams and hoaxes supported by testimonial evidence which only tries to take advantage of feel good placebo marketing. Absolutely no third party testing or science supports this.

 Oxygenated water enhances performance and post recovery workout.

The grossly overpriced Penta water is priced at $15.00 per gallon.  Perfect water by Amway is priced at $36.00 per case. Infused with 30- 40% more oxygen than ordinary water, it is marketed on the premise that the body can actually absorb oxygen directly into the bloodstream via the digestive system. The only way to get oxygen into the blood is through the lungs.  Trying to get oxygen into your body from water is called “drowning”! Unless you have gills, there is no need to search out water with extra oxygen.  This is a case of pure fraud without physiologic foundation.

 Clustered water is the fountain of youth.

Each year, university researchers on human aging bestow their annual “Silver Fleece” award on anti-aging quackery.  The 2002 recipient was “clustered” water. Water only really clusters when it crystallizes during freezing.

Magnetic water can cure all manner of human ailments.

There is no scientific evidence that water can even be magnetized in the first place.  This scam is at odds with the fundamental laws of physics.

Advanced filters can protect you as well as legal purifiers

Filters do not protect against microbiological or inorganic contaminants. They are often not changed properly, they break down, they dump, they channel, and they produce a declining level of performance the older they get. I often test the water coming out of them worse than the water going into them because they have no automatic shutdown devices.

 Cheap spring or national brand water in 16.9 oz bottles is the answer to tap water problems.  

Teton Springs, Quibell, Lithia Springs, and Big Springs are all local springs that have gone out of business in Georgia in the past 15 years because they failed to protect their customers from microbiological contamination in their water. Crystal Springs, Dasani, and Aquafina have all been cited for contaminants in their water in the past 8 years. We have tested our water against Deer Park, Zephyr Hills, Nestle Pure Life, Crystal Geyser, and every cheap brand sold in the state of Georgia. They all test out with contamination higher than tap water.

Municipal water systems are still keeping our drinking water safe.  Every system using chlorine contains the cancer causing agent trihalomethanes.  63% of waterborne illnesses in the U.S. are directly caused by Cryptosporidium and Giardia cysts, which are city water chlorine tolerant.  Flouride is ineffective and has serious health risks.  The American Dental Association is now warning parents not to use fluoridated water in the preparation of formula. After so many “boil water” alerts, chemical spills, broken water mains, and now AP’s pharmaceutical expose, Municipalities and states are now spending $63 billion dollars a year to try to keep up, but they can’t.  Legal testing requirements and repairs are currently routinely granted waivers. Many municipalities are using the exact same technology that has been in place for 100 years.  TDS levels, by my own testing are double what they were 20 years ago.  Standards are getting tougher as we find out new scientific facts and more contaminants are being discovered.  For example, in January 2006, the standard for Arsenic was reduced from 50 PPB to 10 PPB.  That means the previous standard was off by 500 percent! The distribution system is completely laden with problems: over 237,000 water main breaks in 2006.  The distribution system is coated with dangerous layers of mineral, biological, and chemical deposits that recontaminate the water as it travels in pipes from treatment plant to homes.  We now have over 2100 chemical contaminants in the drinking water that we can test for but we don’t. The EPA estimates there is a gap of $22 billion per year between what is needed and what is done. The fact is that in the next 30 years, every city water supply in the U.S. will reach or exceed it’s expected lifetime, costing the American taxpayer somewhere near $300 billion just to fix the underground pipes. 

Respectfully,

Pete Van Cleave

Water for Life

(770) 578-0600