Plastic Bottles of Water

Plastic bottles of water.

We buy plastic bottles of water.

Why the bloody hell, at least in the west, do we buy plastic bottles of water?

And, hang on a minute, before we even start wondering why we pay stupid amounts of money for a commodity that is virtually free, we even pay for those silly little contraptions on the tops of the bottles that you grip with your teeth, pull, and then, if it works, and doesn’t just break off, enables you to squirt the water through this nozzle into your mouth.

All of this just to save you unscrewing the cap and taking it off.

The dreadful labour of having to unscrew the cap.

And taking it off.

Perhaps that is why we buy the bottled water – to save us the bother of turning a tap and holding a glass beneath it to catch the water.


So why do we do it?


It costs…well, tap water is all but free. For example, in California tap water costs one tenth of a cent per gallon.

In the UK my local water company charges £1.248 per cubic meter, which is 220 gallons, for water. This makes it just over half a penny a gallon.

Bottled water? On sale in my local supermarket for £1.50 for 3 litres. On special offer. There are approximately 4.5 litres in a gallon, so this costs out at £2.75 per gallon, which is approximately 550 times more expensive than tap water. Or, if you like, you are paying under half a penny for the water, and almost the entire £2.75 for the plastic bottles.

Feel good about that?

Me neither.

Perhaps the bottled water is far superior to the tap water?

Nope. Sorry about that, it’s not.

First of all, approximately half of it comes from the tap in any case. Yup, that’s right. The company that flogs it to you gets it from out of the tap.

And as for the rest, tap water is subject to more stringent quality and health standards than bottled water is, in any case. In tests on water in the USA last year, tap water came out better.

So are the huge, multinational soft drinks companies who manufacture these things doing it for our benefit?

You bet they’re not. They’re doing it because they can see an easy and gigantic profit.

We could do worse than talk to our old friend, Mr Satan Moneyglutton, the anonymous CEO of a major soft drinks company, at this point.

‘I honestly don’t know what you’re whingeing about. You want convenience, don’t you? What could be more convenient than pouring all of your money into our coffers?

‘Tap water is so yesterday. It’s inconvenient. We have declared war on tap water. When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to irrigation and washing dishes.

‘And we are working hard to persuade restaurants not to give tap water to diners, but force them instead to purchase our bottled drinks.

‘It is helpful, of course, that most towns and cities seem to have stopped building and maintaining public water fountains, thereby forcing the thirsty citizen to purchase a canned or bottled drink.

‘Furthermore, with the spread of those nasty windfarms and tidal power generators, the future for oil as a source of power is, sadly, looking a wee bit unhealthy.

‘Clearly, there’s no point in leaving the oil in the ground where it’s of no use to anyone, so it makes sense to step up the manufacture of plastics which, incidentally, will make me even richer.’

So, there you go.

‘Nice bottle of water, sir? Only £1. And would you like a plastic bag full of air with that? Only £1.50.’

Don’t laugh – it’ll happen soon, I’m certain.

57 thoughts on “Plastic Bottles of Water

  1. This reminds me of an old Sesame Street skit, of all silly things. A slick salesman had just convinced Bert to buy a bottle of air, so he’d always have some.

    And now, water from a hose is no longer considered drinking water. On construction jobsites, we have to offer bottled water to our workers. From the tap isn’t good enough.

    *shrugs* People like to solve problems. Maybe confronted by something they can’t solve, they focus on something small that they can. It’s as good an explanation as any. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ‘People like to solve problems’ – perhaps by inventing problems when none actually existed?

      So my ‘bag of air for sale’ gag has been done before – it’s no disgrace to play second fiddle to Sesame Street!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Picking up on what you’re both saying, then have you noticed how so many products and services are sold as ‘solutions’? The sub-text is that you have an implied problem, where likely none exists. It’s marketeers playing on the fear impulse.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not a fan of bottled water either! I feel drinking water from various sources only strengthen your immunity. bottled water will weaken it up! What about cancer caused by plastic bottles specially when exposed to heat… even sunlight? The problem seems to be getting to developing countries as well… western exports, you see!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Mick while it’s true but this is more of urban phenomenon catching up in rural as well. in urban areas contaminated water is less of problem. government has already launched mega drive for sanitation and cleanliness projects

        Liked by 2 people

          1. I wouldn’t get into details out here…it’s not the right place! But yes, things are changing in India! Probably, someone like you who has made multiple visits in the past can feel this change…. better! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Bottles of air are now being sold (I think it’s Dorset air being sold to the Chinese).
    You’re right about bottled water…the expense, the waste, the bottles themselves. We’re so lucky to have tap water in our homes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right, Colin! I had forgotten completely about those bottles of air! I wonder if there is anything at all that some people aren’t prepared to buy?

      Yes, we are really lucky here in the west.


  4. There is one downside to drinking water straight out of the tap. Mick. It often tastes foul. We had to install a water softener/filter in our new house before the water was drinkable. Then we had to filter it again to make coffee. The good news is that beer – at supermarket prices – is around one-third the price of speciality water. Beer makes foul coffee, of course, but do you hear me complaining? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Tina's Faerie Files

    LOL they are already selling air, just google oxygen bars. I use bottled water primarily because it’s easy and I’m lazy. I don’t use it a lot but when I do, that is primarily why I do. There are a few other reasons but they all boil down to lazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Tina, and for your mesmerising honesty! I fear you have hit upon a large reason that these buggers get away with it!

      And, yes, bottled air. I have been reminded that it is not just a writer’s play!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tina's Faerie Files

        You’re welcome, honesty is one thing I do fairly well. In our travels we have learned that you can buy pretty much anything you can think of in this world. If you can imagine it then someone somewhere is likely already packaging and selling it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to admit, I’ve been to places in the US where the tap water tastes pretty bad – I could see buying bottled water there. Especially if you’re making beer. Fortunately our tap water here is quite good.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve often wondered why people in Western countries have almost completely stopped using tap water…Colas and bottled water companies in a two-pronged attack? Somebody’s been reading their Art of War…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes. This is just one of the worst things ever – not just the plastics used, but the fact that soft drink companies are being given unfettered access to water tables for next to nothing, and making absolute billions! If you must carry water with you, buy a metal bottle and refill it from the tap.

    And I did see something recently about bottled air being for sale in China 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  9. High time we introduced a real recycling tax and carbon tax on all products and services so that companies and consumers pay the ‘real’ price for their irresponsible waste and pollution. Then we might start to realise it makes no sense to import steel from China, carrying tons of readily available material over the oceans, causing pollution and contributing to climate change, when we have the same stuff on our doorsteps. As for bottled water: you’ve chosen an item that has almost no purpose in the western world, Mick, other than, as you so brilliantly point out, to make money for already rich individuals who are all too willing to prey on the ignorance and gullibility of the public.
    Great piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Stuart. I fear a recycling tax would make no difference to the sales of bottled water, however. If people are already quite prepared to spend 550 times what it’s actually worth to buy the stuff, I don’t suppose a bit extra would deter them. I don’t know what might change these habits – intensive public education, perhaps?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On its own, possibly not, Mick. But combined with a realistic carbon tax, it might have quite an impact, since such a tax would take into account all the wasteful processes, energy and transport that takes that bottled tap water to the consumer’s mouth. And, like the supermarket plastic bag charge, it might have some impact. Something is better than nothing. But I agree that really focussed education might have a more lasting and definite impact.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ‘A realistic carbon tax’ – I don’t see it anytime soon, certainly not under this government. But, yes, there might be progress with a (dread phrase *shudder*) joined-up approach. Perhaps some towns and cities – such as London under the new mayor? – might lead the way.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Agreed; it’s unlikely: politicians are hardly the most forward seeing of individuals! But simply putting the idea out there, spreading the possibility may hasten its eventual implementation. One can only hope. Time for our children in this damaged world is, after all, running short.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Cezane & Michelle

    Wow, well said. Really well said, i had this thought in me while i was writing one of blog posts, with it i was able to develop further a post about money and how it runs peoples life today. Every line in your post was a hard hit. Brilliant writings! – Cezane

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Very true. Nowadays drinking tap water has become a sin. No one wants to commit this sin. The worst is getting water packet. There are no norms I guess for these ppl selling them. So it can be from any contaminated pond also. The mention of soft drinks ppl here – they have made a great health disorder for many out there. Same with the fast food outlets. All get addicted to these and they are not stopped as there is lot of profit and this vibe surrounds to keep them running. It’s just our ignorance and the health conscious thoughts we have. Sad though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Back To The Tap -

    Excellent post, Mick. The facts about bottled water are, sadly, underreported. The truth about tap water is too! Until I began this campaign I actually had no idea about tap water’s incredibly stringent regulation in comparison to bottled. Or the fact that many bottled waters are just tap water that has been filtered. I know I was equally blown away at the realisation that it takes about 3 litres of water to actually produce a single litre of bottled water! It’s really shocking and posts like this are doing a great job of spreading the word. Your jab at a “plastic bag full of air” gave me a good chuckle but, as you say, it certainly is not out of the question.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting! Yes, I think the thing that amazes me more than anything else, though, is that in the west, where we have good quality water on tap, we are actually prepared – happy even – to spend stupid sums on this bottled water. Is it just that it is too much trouble to fill a bottle from the tap? Do all of these people really believe it is so much better for you? God knows…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Mick, while I don’t buy small bottles of water, I do buy 2.5 gallon jugs to keep in my fridge. The reason is that our tap water is so loaded with chlorine that the instant we turn on the faucet, we can smell it, like we’re next to a pool that’s just been treated with chlorine. I don’t know why our town does this, as I never smell it so strongly when I drink from the faucet in other towns. I’m not sure what I can do about it or if a water filter of some sort would filter it out. If I drink too much of the tap water, like when I run out of jugs, I start feeling ill. Then again, I worry about chemicals from the plastic jugs being in the contained water. With that said, I agree with everything you say in this post. It is crazy when you think about the hundreds of millions people spend to drink water, and also the tremendous damage to the environment. It demonstrates the power of marketing and advertising. Honestly, I feel this way, too, about places like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks Coffee. I grind my own organic coffee at home and drink that in the morning. On my way to work, sometimes the cars are lined up in the street at the drive-thru just for a cup of that, in my opinion, sub-par coffee. I wonder why not get up a few minutes earlier, make it at home, and relax a little before work instead of being stressed out waiting in line for 15 minutes wasting gas and time and further ruining the environment with your exhaust fumes?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know how you can square that circle, Kim. I guess you’re stuck with the jugged water for the moment. Yes, it’s marketing, isn’t it? Twenty or forty years ago we wouldn’t have even contemplated spending money on those.
      And as for not getting up ten minutes earlier, well, I’m sure that if lots of people did get up earlier, they;d still end up rushing and being late. It’s how they are!

      Liked by 1 person

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