We do not sell bottled water at BYD for many reasons. Municipal tap water* is actually more highly regulated than bottled water and much bottled water turns out to be nothing more than tap water. Bottled water has become a gigantic industry with many harmful effects on the environment.
Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, 167 for each person. Durable, lightweight containers manufactured just to be discarded. Water bottles are made of totally recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, so we share responsibility for their impact: Our recycling rate for PET is only 23%, which means we pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year–more than $1 billion worth of plastic.
If you’re like me, you started drinking bottled water largely due to health concerns about the quality of tap water but those fears are unfounded. Bottled water isn’t usually any different or better than tap water.
We buy bottled water because we think it’s healthy. Which it is, of course: Every 12-year-old who buys a bottle of water from a vending machine instead of a 16-ounce Coke is inarguably making a healthier choice. But bottled water isn’t healthier, or safer, than tap water. Indeed, while the United States is the single biggest consumer in the world’s $50 billion bottled-water market, it is the only one of the top four–the others are Brazil, China, and Mexico–that has universally reliable tap water. Tap water in this country, with rare exceptions, is impressively safe. It is monitored constantly, and the test results made public.
24% of the bottled water we buy is tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi.
Bottled water may seem relatively inexpensive compared to other bottled drinks like juice and soda but it’s outrageously expensive compared to tap.
And for this healthy convenience, we’re paying what amounts to an unbelievable premium. You can buy a half- liter Evian for $1.35–17 ounces of water imported from France for pocket change. That water seems cheap, but only because we aren’t paying attention.
In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National Park. It’s so good the EPA doesn’t require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
These quotes are taken from a lengthy Fast Company article called Message in a Bottle. It largely looks at the issue in economic terms but it also highlights some of the human costs of the bottled water industry.
…in Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water. Which means it is easier for the typical American in Beverly Hills or Baltimore to get a drink of safe, pure, refreshing Fiji water than it is for most people in Fiji.
The author almost sounds like he’s writing for an environmental magazine instead of a business magazine.
Bottled water is not a sin. But it is a choice.
Before we discontinue the sale of bottled water we need to do two things. First is to find an inexpensive source for reusable bottles to accommodate people who come unprepared. The SIGG bottles we sell are great but we don’t want to make you purchase a $15 product just because you were running late and may have left your reusable bottle at home or in the car. I’m looking for something that we will be able to sell for only a couple bucks. The second thing we need to do is replace at least one of the bathroom faucets with something that will allow you to easily refill your bottles. Until then, please don’t purchase bottled water from us unless you absolutely have to and, if you do, please reuse and recycle your disposable water bottles.
* We do have filters on our showers and drinking water at the studio, just in case.