The future for water may not be bottled

Filling up a glass of water from your tap at home could well be the equivalent of purchasing a bottle of water from your nearest shop. That is the conclusion of a 2011 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The study also suggested that filtering tap water at home could be a healthier option than drinking it from a bottle.
Out of the 173 bottled water brands in the United States over half failed a transparency test carried out by the EWG into their products. None of the brands tested did enough to earn themselves a grade ‘A’ in the study. What does this mean for the future of bottled water? And is it really as unreliable as stated?
In 2004 the United Kingdom experienced similar problems when Dasani was launched in February of that year. Within a month the company the company stated that the supposedly ‘pure’ water they were selling was actually just tap water taken from a local mains supply. The misery was compiled for the company owned by Coca-Cola when it was discovered that Dasani contained a chemical called bromate. This chemical has the potential to cause cancer. Coca-Cola had intended to release Dasani in France and Germany but after the issues in the UK this plan was scrapped.
Dasani provides a vague and uninformative description of how its water is processed. They describe using a local water supply, filtration and a process known as reverse osmosis. No-one from Dasani was available for further comment regarding these methods. In the EWG study 18 percent of the brands tested failed to list the source of their water. 32 percent of the brands did not provide information regarding their purification processes. Although it is not actually a legal requirement for water companies to provide this information it could be time for changes given the results of the EWG study. Dasani is not the only water company that provides misleading information regarding the source of their water.
Beverly Watson, Consumer Response Representative for Poland Spring, stated, “We are committed to providing products that live up to our customers high standards.” Is this really the case? Poland Spring does contain a list of water sources on each bottle, all of which are located in Maine. “Poland Spring is sourced from natural underground spring sources in the state of Maine,” Watson claimed. She continued, “The water goes through a multistep quality process involving a 0.2 micron filtration and disinfection process.” This process is designed in order to remove particles in water which are as small as 0.2 micron in diameter.
Despite this apparent clarity offered by Watson and Poland Spring regarding their sources there is still a grey area surrounding the subject. 21 year old Austin Fuller is a former employee of Poland Spring. During the three months he spent working in the factory in the summer of 2008 he noticed a number of potential misdemeanours with the company’s production claims. “They have different locations where the water does not have a spring source. It is a different source altogether from those which are mentioned,” claimed Fuller. Poland Spring is also responsible for the production of Nestle water, which is the company’s discount brand. Fuller continued, “They would use the Poland Spring labels on the Nestle bottles to pass them off as something different.” This sort of evidence makes the claims in the EWG report look a lot stronger. In some US states the revolt against bottled water has already commenced.
Vermont’s Secretary of Agency of Natural Resources, Deb Markowitz, is one of those leading the charge against bottled water. She stated, “How safe is our tap water? Actually – it is so safe that it is also safe to bottle and sell to consumers!” Vermont, along with the states of Colorado, Illinois and New York, has banned bottled water from its state buildings in an attempt to get people to change to drinking filtered water. “Bottled water is not consistent with environmental stewardship. Think of all the plastic waste and toxic chemicals that are used in the production of plastic bottles,” she claimed. She continued, “Don’t waste your money on bottled water. If you don’t like the taste of your local water then buy a filter.” The Vermont state government spent $213,000 on bottled water alone last year, “The Vermont state government will be rejecting bottled water and phasing it out of our buildings,” was Markowitz’s emphatic statement.
Tap water is far more sustainable than bottled water. On 23rd March 2011, which was World Water Day, the World Bank made a rather startling statement. They claimed that by the year 2030 the global demand for water would be 40 percent greater than the global supply of water. This may seem shocking at first but the facts support the comments, especially when much of the Third World is without a regular or sanitary supply of running water on a daily basis. The World Health Organisation highlighted that 884 million people in the world do not have access to a safe supply of water. That equates to approximately one eighth of the global population. The United Nations Human Development Report drew attention to the fact that the average American uses around 400 litres of water every day when they drink, wash and cook. There is a misconception that water is a comfortable natural resource compared to others, such as coal and oil. The World Bank’s predictions may not be that far off the mark.
Next time you walk into your local shop and decide to buy a bottle of water think twice. Despite the obvious financial benefits of not purchasing it you may very well be choosing the healthier option for both yourself and the environment as a whole.

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