Posts Tagged ‘waste’

World Map of the Week: The Inequity and Profits of Bottled Water

In bottled water, dirty drinking water, lifestraw on September 30, 2007 at 7:43 am

Drinking water is essential to live, but dirty drinking water is also a major cause of disease. Whilst most people living in Western Europe can access safe water, only 50% of people living in Central Africa can do this. The largest population without access to safe tap water is in China: that is 324 million people, or 25% of the population. In a quarter of all territories more than a quarter of the population is without access to safe water. Worldwide 18% of people have no safe drinking water. Safer water can be obtained by treating water, collecting it from a spring, or pumping it up from groundwater.


Copyright SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan).

Here is the irony as told in the Fast Company article, July 2007 that discusses in-depth how bottled water is viewed: “When we buy a bottle of water, what we’re often buying is the bottle itself, as much as the water. We’re buying the convenience–a bottle at the 7-Eleven isn’t the same product as tap water, any more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks is the same as a cup of coffee from the Krups machine on your kitchen counter. And we’re buying the artful story the water companies tell us about the water: where it comes from, how healthy it is, what it says about us. Surely among the choices we can make, bottled water isn’t just good, it’s positively virtuous.

Except for this: Bottled water is often simply an indulgence, and despite the stories we tell ourselves, it is not a benign indulgence. We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 81/3 pounds a gallon. It’s so heavy you can’t fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water–you have to leave empty space.)

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. The global economy has contrived to deny the most fundamental element of life to 1 billion people, while delivering to us an array of water “varieties” from around the globe, not one of which we actually need. That tension is only complicated by the fact that if we suddenly decided not to purchase the lake of Poland Spring water in Hollis, Maine, none of that water would find its way to people who really are thirsty.”