There are a few news stories that we at Gallery Drinkware follow regularly: the Flint water crisis, the ongoing water scarcity issue in the United States, and the environmental disaster that those terrible plastic water bottles have created. All of these issues were/are preventable and all of them are woefully neglected.
We recently read an article that brings all three of these issues together: the fact that water bottle companies such as Nestle are literally making billions of dollars using water for their plastic bottles that they're paying pennies for, water that should just be accessible to residents based on human rights, water that's becoming more and more scarce as the decades pass. And there's evidence that the water in these bottles is not any cleaner, possibly even LESS clean, than the water that's coming out of our tap.
According to the article in Yahoo Finance, U.S. water bottle sales reached $16 billion last year, which is a 10% increase from 2015. A possible explanation for this increase is the somewhat justifiable fear that people have about drinking tap water after the Flint drinking water crisis (one horrific example of a contaminated water source and contaminated pipes poisoning unknowing residents).
But the ironic piece of this puzzle is that companies like Nestle often go into economically depressed municipalities promising jobs and new infrastructure in exchange for access to a precious resource that should be a basic right for millions of struggling people.
Juxtaposing the $16 billion bottled water companies made last year alongside the $200 Nestle paid a Michigan municipality for its water extraction fee is frankly shocking (and ironically, the Michigan water source referred to here is located just two hours from Flint).
There is pretty much nothing good about bottled water, other than convenience. People often buy bottled water because they believe it's more "pure" than that they would be getting from the tap. But get this: in the United States, municipalities with 2.5 million or more people are required to test the water coming through their taps dozens of times a day.
Those with 50,000-plus must test for certain contaminants 60 times a month. Conversely, bottled water companies aren't required to test their water AT ALL. And let's not ignore the massive issues of scarcity: the United Nations predicts that 1.8 billion people worldwide will live in locations with water shortages by 2025, not to mention the billions more who will be living under "stressed water conditions."
Water bills are sky-rocketing in the US and will continue to do so over the coming decades. Failing infrastructure is a major contributor to the trend of buying bottled water for one's daily drinking needs as opposed to getting water from the tap.
And yes, there are frightening examples of infrastructure gone terribly wrong, like in Flint. But this opens the door to a massive marketing bonanza for the bottled water companies.
The multiple issues that arise from bottled water companies dominating the market are overwhelming. In our opinion, the crux of the problem is the fact that these companies are taking water that would naturally be the people's water and turning a profit on it, all while polluting the planet and draining a valuable resource.
While there are millions of people with no water or poisoned water, the big bottled water companies are raking in billions. How is this fair? Simply put, it's not. Let's all think twice the next time we consider purchasing a plastic water bottle. That few dollars that you just spent on a plastic bottled water is contributing to a whole host of problems that is very, very far-reaching.