Gallon-sized bottled water jugs have long been a staple product in home emergency kits for times of natural disaster, but over the last several years individually sized bottles have become a $11 billion-a-year business.
Consumers have been convinced that somehow bottled water is better than their local tap water. While this may be true in some regions, most cities' water supplies are adequately maintained and healthy.
Many people don't even realize that popular brands of bottled water are actually just purified tap water, not flowing from some mountain spring like the picture on the bottle portrays.
Also, much of the bottled water sold on the American market is imported from Europe who's water supplies are suffering from centuries of pollution.
Awareness is increasing with companies including Pepsi Co. updating their labels to make it clear that the source is the public water supply.
The price of bottled water has even surpassed the price of gasoline. What would normally cost about one penny a gallon from the tap is sold for up to 10,000 times that price.
"For a long time, I've viewed [bottled water] as a huge marketing scam," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ross "Rocky" Anderson. An increasing number of people are starting to agree with him.
In addition to the environmental impact from the millions of empty plastic bottles piling up in landfills, it takes 460 million gallons of oil a year to bring that bottled water to the shelves. It is estimated that shipping the 43 million gallons of water from Europe each year creates the same carbon-dioxide emissions as 660 cars running for a year.
With contributions from The Seattle Times.
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