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Why Do We Buy Bottled Water?

Is bottled water good for you?

The answer is, that depends on your definition of “good.” While the bottled water business continues to boom off the strength its health benefits, there are lots of downsides to sipping away all day on pre-packaged H2O.

On the upside, drinking water is clearly a good thing for our bodies. The benefits of staying hydrated are well documented. And, for many people, every bottle of water they drink is replacing a high calorie sugared soda. Americans have cut an astounding 68 trillion total calories over the past 15 years because of bottled water, according to the Beverage Marketing Council (BMC). That’s the equivalent of each of us eliminating 87 cheeseburgers from our diet last year.

Related: It’s Official, Splenda Is Bad For You

Bottled water’s continued popularity has also been an economic blessing. It’s currently a $13 billion lead by beverage brands like Coke and Pepsi, who have wisely and proactively moved into that territory as sugared sodas began to fall out of favor. (Pepsi calls it bottled water and healthy snacks “future-proofing.”)

But bottle water also has it costs – economic and ecological. Americans spend about $12 billion on 30 billion bottles of water annually. That’s an average of 40 cents per bottle. Based on my experience, I bet the average per household is actually much higher. I’ll bet your family is like mine – we most often spring for bottled water when we need the convenience – road trips, concerts, ball games — and the water is most expensive, often $2 a bottle, or more.

Get this: If tap water cost as much as the cheapest bottled water, the average annual water bill in San Francisco would be $9,000, according to

So, we’re paying a lot of money for something we can get for free. It’s certainly an expense I’d eliminate during an economic shutdown! Why do we buy water? Marketing, pure and simple, say the critics. Advertisers have taught us that toting around a bottle of water, especially a high-end brand, means we are unique individuals who care deeply about our bodies and health.

Ironically, while the bottled water sellers often use natural beauty in their marketing, the industry is no doubt a plague on the environment. Some 3 million tons of plastic are used globally every year to make disposable water bottles, 80% of which end up in landfills.

So, is bottled water good for you? Well, water is good for you. The bottled part, eh, maybe not so much. Give that some thought before you crack open yet another cold one.

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