Monday, August 10, 2009

No bottled water for me!


Why do people buy bottled water? I find it quite amusing when I see people buy water in a bottle. People think that bottled water is purer than tap water. I would not pay a penny to buy bottled water and I have my own reasons which I will share with you. It will explain why the green buzz says no to ‘bottled water’.

Why you must say no bottled water:

1. A four year study by NRDC found major gaps in bottled water regulation and concluded that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water.

2. Each year 38 billion (and counting up) water bottles end up in landfills in US, in countries like India they line up railway tracks, stations, roadsides etc. The bottles sit there for an average of 700 years before they would break down. 90% of water bottles are not recycled. Do not even think that changing the shape of a bottled water bottle could help to make it tad more ‘eco-friendly’.

3. It takes about 1.5 billion barrels of oil to manufacture bottles – that is the reason why 1 gallon of bottled water actually costs twice or thrice more than what you pay for 1 gallon of oil at the pump.

4. Tap water is on an average 500 times cheaper than bottled water – making bottled water as the most expensive way of water distribution.

5. Municipal authorities have stringent standards for water that is distributed through pipelines into homes.

6. Even in developing countries like India – I would give tap water distributed by Municipality a thumbs up – along with a home water filtration system.

7. I am particularly worried about the implication of storing water in plastic bottles – Bisphenol A (BPA) which is released when the water is hot(like bottles stored in sun heated cars) or when a plastic bottle is washed with hot water. Read more about BPA at science daily.

NRDC study concludes that in USA there are no specific contamination limits that are set on the bottled water industry. I wonder, if that is the case in USA – would I expect any standards for bottled water in India? According to NRDC one fourth of bottled water is actually plain old tap water in fancy packaging. Several brand names tested positive for industrial contaminants and bacterial contaminants such as – fecal coliforms.

Some of the contaminants found in bottled water are arsenic, disinfection byproducts and bacteria.” Seattle, quoting Gina Solomon

Well haven’t I said enough to transform your habit of buy bottled water – into carrying your own reusable water bottle?

So think before you buy yet another bottle to be sent to the landfill.

1. So please use a filter for the tap. However these have a life span and have to be changed after a certain length of time.

2. Invest in a water purification system which uses reverse osmosis, UV, Ozone – these are costly but are very popular in countries like India as it looked upon as a necessity.

3. Store water in glass pitchers for daily use. For parties invest in reusable jars or canisters.

4. Last resort – if you still insist on drinking the so called pure bottled water – make sure that you get a 3 or 5 gallon water bottle. Chances are that you will get it delivered at your home and chances are that it will be reused, recycled,refillable,returnable.

One niggling worry though – if you have a water cooler with these big plastic bottles – do not use the hot water option – remember BPA which is an endocrine disruptor – it mimics the function of the endocrine gland.

As for me – I have always drunk tap water – no matter where in the world I am. Give the tap water a chance – if you are still worried..boil the water, strain it and then drink it. Well who has the time?…Go pick up that bottled water from the store or get it delivered at home!


  1. Absolutely loved the article. Way to go, girl...

  2. Good one! we know bottled water is convenient, but with convenience come perils. Article has demonstrated this well.

  3. Good ..
    I am following it from long time ....... never got sick...

  4. The bottled water business is now worth more than the IIT JEE coaching business. And I thought nothing could surpass that! :)

    Its disheartening to note that we blindly give in to western trends when it comes to "health consciousness". Bottled water may or may not be pure, but the plastic bottles are a hazard any time. When will this copy pasting of western ideas stop!

  5. Govind,
    Good one...we need people to think and weigh their options..I can reach only a few people and rely on them to spread the message.

    What people must understand is that most businesses run without green conscience! Its upto us to develop ours and put a stop to nonsensical products being sold in the market.

  6. Very informative esp for people who have phobia of tap water.Liked the idea of water purification system and other alternatives to bottled water which should be encouraged. Infact houses must come with water purification installed as mandaotry from the county or muncipality to discard plastic bottles as much as possible.Along with garbage disposible bins at every corner of street there should also be plastic bottle disposible bins so that it is more convinent for people to discard the plastic and make our earth more clean.Keep up the good work sunita.

  7. Sunita - Good Analysis Here's some stats on Bangalore - Work was done by me in 2007

    Bangalore city alone has around 120 bottled water units manufacturing ½ L, 1 L, 2L, and 20 L mineral water bottles. In addition it has 30 units manufacturing only ½ L, 1 L, 2L capacities. Almost all of these units extract groundwater from borewell and treat the water using a demineralisation unit and a reverse osmosis unit. With a conservative assumption that each unit manufactures 1000 cans of 20L capacity, a total of 2.4 MLD bottled water is produced and 1.6 MLD of rejects are generated. In other words daily 4 million litres of water (roughly 1200 million litres per year) is abstracted from borewells in Bangalore alone.
    In most cases there is a minimum of 40% reject water which contains excess salts. A whooping 480 million litres/year of reject water is generated in Bangalore alone. The reject water is often let out in drains or for application on land as most of the units are small scale units and cannot afford installing and maintaining evaporators. Land application of water containing high concentration of salts leads to loss of soil fertility.

  8. That was a good article. Can the write throw some light on materials which are safe for carrying drinking water when you are travelling. Glass is certainly not an option.

  9. Hi Sunita;

    Very good. Just few days back i had recieved the ppt about bottled water menance in US through friend. Some trillions are wasted because of use of bottled water. Its amazing to know why the fedral govt is sitting on this and does not form the law to curb it. Here too the situation alarming although not bad as USA. The reason being, Only few people by the bottled water here.

    --- sanjay shevkar

  10. Very informative. In fact some water bottles at railway stations are in such a pitiable condition that you don’t feel like buying them. The ideas of home/office water purification system and carrying water bottles from home/office is really good.

  11. HI,
    Its all depend on where are you, If you are at home then you know that the water you have is purified by your own ways. But if you are on a road then probably you need to trust the company who bottle the water than the muncipal tap in a restuarant or so..

  12. good article. I beleive that in India 99 % 0f people dont use bottle water in house and depend upon municipal water , borewells, wells,river water.The main consumption of water bottles is during journey and the quality of water available at stations ( rail or bus ) is worst.So people rely on bottles.point is how to ensure good quality of water at public places like stations .....

  13. Hey it’s nice. just something I want share it is “a waste of money and natural resources”
    In India, the per capita bottled water consumption is still quite low - less than five litres a year as compared to the global average of 24 litres. So.plz our indian people start thinking in a good way.A one-litre bottled water requires a minimum 4 litres of water for production. At the same time it consumes energy during production (processing, bottle filling, labelling, sealing), transport and cooling.Finally it is better to filter tap water.

  14. thanks all for the comments and has been a learning experience for me..!!

  15. I always advocate for tap water in my close circle especially when I see people talk about bottled water. One frequent comment I get is “I don’t like the chlorine smell” and repeatedly try to convince them that presence of residual chlorine ensures that no bacteria can grow in the water and you are consuming good water.

    Risk of using bottled water is particularly important in Indian context, as people indiscriminately through the bottles everywhere and rag pickers pick them up and there are some local small scale illegal shop owners who buy those bottles, clean them by questionable methods and fill tap water or water from any other questionable source and sell them. I have seen it happening in several suburban pockets while I used to travel long distance via train. It’s very risky no doubt.

    Of course, the environmental benefits are very well explained in the article, and hope people think more before “they hydrate themselves” with bottled water.

    NOT RELATED TO THE STORY: The quoted phrase in the last sentence is often used by companies that sell bottled water, and they successfully created a myth that only bottled water can offer you the kind of convenience you need to keep yourself hydrated all the time. Think more and you will find it’s not true at all.

  16. Dear Ms. Sunita,

    Thanks a lot for the information provided above. I would advise all, who read this article to seriously think about it and take the necessary acction with immediate effect. Looking at your experience and knowledge, I am sure no one will doubt your credentials and information. Pls. keep posting for our knowledge and awareness and in return we will spread the word as much as possible...Thanks a Lot!!!!

  17. Thought you might be interested in this.In India,much of the Bottling plants are located in Himachal,one such plant which we were unfortunate enough to visit.As it turned out, it was nothing more than simply a wall with an array of taps which had untreated water fed into it from a local river.This water is then packaged,sealed and shipped off to markets far and wide where we lap it up like the people we are. :)

  18. Good one! I know bottled water is harmful, but convinience has always taken the upper hand.

    We go by the trends, when it comes to "health" we go wrong. Bottled water is not pure and the plastic bottles are a hazard. We should go by our traditional Indian way of carring water and always use Steel glass to dring water.

    Very informative. Thanks Ritu

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