How Bottled Water Hypnotized Us All

Bottled water is a bit like smoking: deep down, we all knew there was something wrong with it from day one. Environmentalism has been a widespread subject in our public consciousness for more than 30 years now. Did anyone really believe that getting our water out of 16-ounce plastic bottles would be an efficient long-term solution for humanity? Despite that, the bottled water industry has done an admirable job using sly marketing magic to make us all feel like chemical-ridden cheapskates for drinking out of the tap. And a new book called Bottlemania breaks down the corporate spin techniques in a straightforward way that already has me drinking exclusively out of the toilet:

  • "[In] 2002 Nestlé produced a training manual aimed at waiters called 'Pour on the Tips'. Converting guests to pricey bottled water, it said, could boost their monthly earnings by $100 or more."
  • "[One] executive promised a gathering of Wall Street analysts in 2000 that tap water would eventually be used only for showers and washing dishes."
  • "[The] total energy required for every bottle's production, transport and disposal is equivalent, on average, to filling that bottle a quarter of the way with oil."
  • "It costs between 250 and 10,000 times more than tap water and in blind tastings people cannot usually separate the fancy beverage from the ordinary stuff."

Of course,author Elizabeth Royte also point out that normal tap water is, in many areas, full of pollutants. So we're screwed either way. But at least drinking from the tap will save us all some money on the way to the apocalypse.

[Economist, NYT; pic via Brett Weinstein]