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How Bottled Water Consumption Grew 120% and What This Means for the Environment

It’s been a booming decade or two for bottled water. As health concerns concerning soda and carbonated beverages have steadily increased, Americans have turned to what they view as healthier alternatives to sweet, sugary drinks. According to a report recently released by Beverage Marketing, bottled water consumption grew by 120% from 2000 to 2015.

water consumption growth

In that same amount of time sodas have been less and less popular throughout the country. Over those 15 years the sale of sodas has shrunk by 16%. The push for more natural and organic components in American’s daily diet has led to a drop in soda sales.

A huge contributing factor in the rising popularity of bottled water is the flavor innovation within still bottled water. 48% of bottled water drinkers are replacing the high sugar drinks they normally consume, such as soda, with various brands of flavored bottled water.

Research from Mintel indicates that 43% of bottled water consumers also look for vitamins and supplements in their bottled water. Bottled water manufacturers are turning away from artificial sweeteners, as the “ideal bottled water,” according to Mintel’s research, is GMO-free and contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors.

But taste isn’t the only factor that has led to an increase in bottled water sales. The modern push for convenience and instant gratification has hooked more and more buyers on buying bottled water in bulk to shave off a few seconds of their routine in filling reusable bottles or drinking a glass of water before leaving for work. Bottled water requires minimal effort to consume.

Replacing tap water with bottled water has alarming implications for the environment and for the average American’s expenses. According to The Water Project, U.S. landfills are overflowing with over 2 million tons of single-use water bottles. Over 80% of these bottles simply become litter because only 1 in 5 bottles are discarded in a recycle bin.

These bottles of water pose a massive problem for us as a society. If left in a landfill a bottle of water will take 1,000 years to biodegrade. If burned, a single-use water bottle emits toxic fumes that can harm organisms and the surrounding environment.

Bottled water is a product that we don’t need – it is a byproduct of American’s pursuit of ultimate convenience, no matter what the cost. According to Dr. Michael Warhurst, the senior waste manager at Friends of the Earth, bottled water “is another product we do not need. Bottled water companies are wasting resources and exacerbating climate change. Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and transporting water adds to that. We could help reduce these damaging effects if we all simply drank water straight from the tap.”

Many citizens believe that their tap water isn’t as pure as bottled water. But bottled water is tap water in many instances. Start drinking from your own tap, and if you’re concerned about the quality of your water, install a reverse osmosis filtration system to put your mind at ease. It’s easy to maintain and removes many potential contaminants in your tap water.

Do your part to save the planet – stop drinking bottled water.

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