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The Story of Bottled Water

The Story of Bottled Water

This is a story about a world obsessed with stuff. It’s a story about a system in crisis. We’re trashing the planet. We’re trashing each other. And we’re not even having fun. The good thing is that when we start to understand the system, we start to see lots of places to step in and turn these problems into solutions. One of the problems with trying to use less stuff is that sometimes we feel like we really need it. What if you live in a city like, say, Cleveland and you want a glass of water? Are you going to take your chances and get it from the city tap? Or should you reach for a bottle of water that comes from the pristine rainforests of… Fiji? Well, Fiji brand water thought the answer to this question was obvious. So they built a whole ad campaign around it. It turned out to be one of the dumbest moves in advertising history. You see, the city of Cleveland didn’t like being the butt of Fiji’s jokes, so they did some tests and guess what? These tests showed a glass of Fiji water is lower quality, it loses taste tests against Cleveland tap and costs thousands of times more. This story is typical of what happens when you test bottled water against tap water. Is it cleaner? Sometimes, sometimes not. In many ways, bottled water is less regulated than tap. Is it tastier? In taste tests across the country, people consistently choose tap over bottled water. These bottled water companies say they’re just meeting consumer demand. But who would demand a less sustainable, less tasty, way more expensive product, especially one you can get for almost free in your kitchen? Bottled water costs about 2000 times more than tap water. Can you imagine paying 2000 times the price of anything else? How about a $10,000 sandwich? Yet people in the US buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week. That is enough to circle the globe more than 5 times. How did this come to be? Well, it all goes back to how our materials economy works and one of its key drivers which is known as manufactured demand. If companies want to keep growing, they have to keep selling more and more stuff. In the 1970s giant soft drink companies got worried as they saw their growth projections starting to level off. There’s only so much soda a person can drink. Plus it wouldn’t be long before people began realizing that soda is not that healthy and turned back to “gasp”, drinking tap water. Well, the companies found their next big idea in a silly designer product that most people laughed off as a passing yuppie fad. “Water is free”, people said back then, “what will they sell us next, air?” So how do you get people to buy this fringe product? Simple. You manufacture demand. How do you do that? Well, imagine you’re in charge of a bottled water company. Since people aren’t lining up to trade their hard-earned money for your unnecessary product, you make them feel scared and insecure if they don’t have it. And that’s exactly what the bottled water industry did. One of their first marketing tactics was to scare people about tap water, with ads like Fiji’s Cleveland campaign. “When we’re done,” one top water executive said. “tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes.” Next, you hide the reality of your product behind images of pure fantasy. Have you ever noticed how bottled water tries to seduce us with pictures of mountain streams and pristine nature? But guess where a third of all bottled water in the US actually comes from? The tap! Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coke’s Dasani are two of the many brands that are really filtered tap water. But the pristine nature lie goes much deeper. In a recent full page ad, Nestlé said: “bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world.” What?! They are trashing the environment all along the product’s life cycle. Exactly how is that environmentally responsible? The problems start here with extraction and production where oil is used to make water bottles. Each year, making the plastic water bottles used in the US takes enough oil and energy to fuel a million cars. All that energy spent to make the bottle even more to ship it around the planet and then we drink it in about 2 minutes? That brings us to the big problem at the other end of the life cycle. Disposal. What happens to all these bottles when we’re done? Eighty percent end up in landfills, where they will sit for thousands of years, or in incinerators, where they are burned, releasing toxic pollution. The rest gets collected for recycling. I was curious about where the plastic bottles that I put in the recycling bins go. I found out that shiploads were being sent to India. So, I went there. I will never forget riding over a hill outside Madras where I came face to face with a mountain of plastic bottles from California. Now, real recycling would turn these bottles back into bottles. But that wasn’t what was happening here. Instead these bottles were slated to be downcycled, which means turning them into lower quality products that would just be chucked later. The parts that couldn’t be downcycled were thrown away there, shipped all the way to India just to be dumped in someone else’s backyard. If bottled water companies want to use mountains on their labels, it would be more accurate to show one of these mountains of plastic waste. Scaring us, seducing us, and misleading us these strategies are all core parts of manufacturing demand. Once they have manufactured all this demand, creating a new multibillion dollar market, they defend it by beating out the competition. But in this case, the competition is our basic human right to clean, safe drinking water. Pepsi’s Vice Chairman publicly said “The biggest enemy is tap water!” They want us to think it’s dirty and bottled water is the best alternative. In many places, public water is polluted thanks to polluting industries like the plastic bottle industry. And these bottled water guys are all too happy to offer their expensive solutions, which keep us hooked on their products. It is time we took back the tap. That starts with making a personal commitment to not buy or drink bottled water unless the water in your community is truly unhealthy. Yes, it takes a bit of foresight to grab a reusable bottle on the way out, but I think we can handle it. Then take the next step join a campaign that’s working for real solutions, like demanding investment in clean tap water for all. In the US, tap water is underfunded by $24 billion partly because people believe drinking water only comes from a bottle! Around the world, a billion people don’t have access to clean water right now. Yet cities all over are spending millions of dollars to deal with all the plastic bottles we throw out. What if that money was spent improving our water systems or better yet, preventing pollution to begin with? There are many more things we can do to solve this problem. Lobby your city officials to bring back drinking fountains. Work to ban the purchase of bottled water by your school, your organization or entire city. This is a huge opportunity for millions of people to wake up and protect our wallets, our health and the planet. The good news is: it’s already started. Bottled water sales have begun to drop while business is booming for safe refillable water bottles. Yay! Restaurants are proudly serving “tap” and people are choosing to pocket the hundreds or thousands of dollars they would otherwise be wasting on bottled water. Carrying bottled water is on its way to being as cool as smoking while pregnant. We know better now. The bottled water industry is getting worried because the jig is up. We are not buying into their manufactured demand anymore. We will choose our own demands, thank you very much, and we’re demanding clean safe water for all. Subtitles by the community

100 thoughts on “The Story of Bottled Water”

  1. Its peoples fault really, I don't drink the tap because it has a metallic taste not because they said it was unsafe.

  2. Thanks for the video I had a science/reading project due Thursday may 17 2018 about plastic and this video really helped me thanks. 😁😁🙂

  3. Nestle chargers $1-2.50 for a bottle of water. It cost them $3.71 for a million liters. They claim that the government controls the water price. How do you fight with the Government

  4. If you want know what is really in your tap water, go to and type in your zip code. Water quality, both bottled and tap, is at an all time low. Hydration is very important, and dehydration is an epidemic. Also check out the information at

  5. Am I stupid for buying bottled water? Stupid, because I’m spending money on something I can get for free (almost) from a water faucet? Stupid, because the creation of a water bottle and its disposal are both very, very un-Earth-friendly. That is a good question. I like money. I like the earth. I like water.

    I do drink some water from other places. I drink from water fountains in public places. I drink a glass of water in restaurants. I even drink from a hose occasionally. But I also buy gallons of filtered water and cheap water bottles at Food Lion or Walmart. Is that okay? Is that smart?

    Well, my home sits among corn and bean fields in North Carolina, and the water pumped into my home comes from a well. On most days it stinks. Sulfuric. Disgusting. Why? I don’t know. But I know that when something stinks, my mind tells my tongue to stay away. And I drink water from plastic containers that costs a little less than a dollar a gallon.

    So, it stinks. And it tastes bad. But am I basing my views on tap water from personal experience, or have I been duped by the advertising gurus hired by Coke (Dasani) and Pepsi (Aquafina) so they can make more money? My solution is to do a taste-test, in my kitchen, right now.

    I stopped my typing and just did a taste-test. Guess which water won, the water from my tap or the filtered water from Walmart? Drum roll, please. Tap-tap-tap-tap… The results: one tasted softer or smoother (the filtered water) and one tasted thicker or heavier and had a nasty after-taste (my well water). Sorry tap water. You don’t taste the same, or better.

    So, I prefer bottled water. Done. But am I just being picky? I mean, people have been drinking unfiltered, or poorly-filtered water, for as long as humans (or our ancestors) have lived. From lakes. Streams. Wells. Can’t I just deal with it and drink the water from my tap? Yes, I could. But why would I? I have a choice. And I choose filtered (tasteless) water.

    End of story! Well, not exactly. What I must come to terms with is the effects that my actions have upon the planet. If I use several gallons of water each week, both in gallon form and in hand-held one-liter form, then that means that I am throwing away hundreds of plastic containers each year. Plastic, either ending up in a landfill, or being recycled to create other plastic products. Products that will remain on this planet, in a pile, in a garbage heap, or shipped off to some distant country for many, many generations. Out of sight, out of mind. Am I okay with that?

    No, I am not. I want to be a good person, a thoughtful human caretaker of this planet, but I also want to drink convenient and relatively inexpensive filtered water. Since I am not willing to give up drinking filtered water, are there other alternatives that will do less damage to the planet? Yes, there are.

    I can use these washable water bottles that I own, and buy fewer one-liter bottles (or none). I can use reusable gallon containers (or larger) and refill them at Walmart, and stop buying disposable water bottles. I can make a small difference, one mouthful of water at a time. But I wonder about the other plastic bottles that I buy: milk, ketchup, shampoo, laundry soap, hand soap. For some products there are alternatives, yet for others…I have no choice in the matter. And, probably the biggest objection: I am one of 325,000,000 people in the United States. How much of an effect will I have on the national and global use and misuse of plastic? I’m not being nihilistic. I’m asking everyone to face reality. It’s a good question, one I need to continue thinking about, though I am afraid that we’ve gone down a path that cannot be changed. Clay jars gave way to metal, glass, paper, and now—plastic. What is the next material we’ll change to? I dunno.

  6. "Pristine mountain streams." You mean like Deer Park? I don't touch that because there's a picture of a deer, and I don't want a deer pissin and shitting in my water.

  7. I feel like my life is a lie… I’m legitimately afraid of tap water. Now I need to look into my water filter.

  8. This video really does not age well, especially after the Flint, Michigan crisis. Sure, in certain parts of the United States tap water is perfectly safe and potable but in many places in the world tap water simply isn't an option. I feel like the bigger issue here is providing people with potable water, which is exactly what bottled water does. It's no secret that plastic is bad for the environment but if you want to reduce the amount of plastic bottles then you need to focus on giving the people potable tap water that they won't fear is being poisoned.

  9. Yes. Bottled water is responsible for islands of plastic in the ocean. And bottled water industries are buying natural water reserves to get trillionaries when drinking water increases in price.

  10. Fiji water has less mercury and less heavy metals
    So like sorry just ur average radical human that doesn’t the like being exploited by the capitalist

  11. A counter top water filter with filters for a year $80.00. after that only filters $60.00 a year.
    Bottled water for cooking, including tea and coffee would $364.00 per year. I'm only one in my house, think what a family of four would spend.
    Also I don't drink soda therefore no plastic bottle to fill land fields.

  12. I don’t know who they had doing the “taste testing” as I have never found any tap water that taste good. Unless you filter it with a really good filter it always at least to me has tasted bad sometimes the bleachy taste and smell make it almost unbearable to drink. I do agree the waste is a problem but please don’t tell me that Tap water taste better I’m not buying that at all. And if you purchase “Spring” water and the source is listed this water does not have it’s source from a city tap that would be labeled “purified water” which I avoid.

  13. The tit of tat for bottled water companies would be, we use the same bottles and fill them with tap water and use these bottles regularly. And not throw them away!!

  14. I've been buying distilled water by the gallon for years and years. $1.00 per gallon. TASTE? It's water! H2O. And by the way, that juice you buy in the nice convenient little containers is DEAD! Once juice is separated from its source it begins to die immediately. So even if you have a juicer and make it fresh you should drink it immediately. The sooner the better.

  15. Bottled water is stupid consumerist BS. Nestle stroking their bottom line riding on the coat tails of your fear. Little plastic bottles of water should be banned.

  16. 수돗물이 깨끗해도 배관이 더러우면 무슨 소용이래요? 업체를 불러서 배관청소를 시켜야 합니다. 저희 집도 작년인가 올해엔가 배관청소 했거든요.

  17. I get that this doesnt solve most of the issue here… but I have never once thrown a water bottle in the garbage. I'm not an animal lol. How hard is it to just put it in the blue bin instead? Answer: not.

  18. Thanks for making requesting water in restaurants cool because I thought it was always awkward to ask. But you just normalised it. Nothing with it at all. 😉

  19. I doubt I will ever get an answer on this because they don't want to face the reality of what may be. So when the government shuts down both Federal and local which will cause either a full cessation of water services, are we just supposed to find a local river or lake we can all go put our faces in? And when water is so scarced that bottles of water are worth whatever useful product you can trade for since cash and coins will have 0 value in the Revolution, having a few cases of the stuff in your home might just be something that you can have and it will be your choice what do do with them. Also in an emergency or when you cannot afford to pay your bills because of a dispute, don't you think you ought to have some kind of reliance that you can survive on? Just facing the reality of what might be?

  20. I love the people in the comments like "haha you Stupid Sheeple! I, the genius, pays 50x more money for a free resource!"

  21. i don't get it, if they are try to scare us into drinking from plastic water bottles, isn't this video trying to scare us into not drinking from bottles?

  22. I live in Los Angeles and the tap water not only tastes terrible, it turns my toothbrush completely pink within a couple of weeks. When I got a new brush I rinsed it only under the filtered shower water. This still resulted in a bit of pink around the base of the bristles, but I did take much longer.
    The only water we drink is taken from the shower filter then put through another very strong filter. Despite the terrible quality of tap water in our city we still don't use disposable water bottles. No excuse.

  23. Personal experience:
    1. Tap water in Russia is undrinkable, as it comes from very polluted rivers, lakes etc. And in winter the tap water is actually BROWN.
    2. Tap water in Georgia is perfectly safe to drink. I have never done the chemical analysis, but the tap water and filtered tap water DO taste the same.
    3. Tap water in Switzerland is perfectly safe to drink. Same as in Georgia, aside from the fact, that it contains a lot of calcium and I prefer to filter it out.
    4. There are dozens of drinking fountains throughout Geneva, which use the same water system as buildings, so they are perfectly safe to drink.

    This is amazing, how US, a country, which is much more developed than Georgia, still has this problem. Obviously, the tap water is not clean throughout Georgia, but in most cities it is and there are construction works underway to improve it where it isn't

  24. My friend is trying to convince me that bottled water is worse than tap water in places like Flint, MI and Costa Rica for examples. Of course as I went to read the article I conveniently met with a "404 not found." Don't have the time to watch this video now but I am having a hard time believing this. I'm not gonna believe something just because someone posted a YT video about it. If someone could link me some science based articles on this study, you'd be a cool dude.

  25. I work at a place that sells a lot of bottled water. I always suggest free tap options but it’s really the guest’s decision if they want to spend $4 for a bottle of water that causes a ton of damage to the environment instead of getting a better quality more refreshing and sustainable drink for FREE. I could think of some way better ways to waste $16 any time the family starts feeling thirsty.

  26. gosh, some of you people are disgusting. you only watched it because your TEACHER made you? that was the same story for me except I watched more at home and I've watched EVERY SINGLE one now more than 2 times! do you even care about earth!!!

  27. Everyone should drink distilled water.There is nothing in it.It has no taste.Distilled water is the cheapest water to buy in grocery stores.Distilled water is best when chilled un the fridge.It is even better from the freezer it ice cold.By the way only clear plastic c an be is purchased by China to may polyester plastic clothes.If you buy polyester your clothes are made from clear plastic bottles.

  28. Were doing this thing at school about arguments and my teacher forced me to argue about why plastic water bottles are good and I got sent to detention cause I 'didn't have enough information' smh

  29. I drink tap water, I pay monthy for this. If everyone keeps buying bottled water then city will slack on water quality. Try and be responsible for the planet . Life.

  30. Most bottled water is undeniably awful. I'm talking Aquafina, Dasani, and Nestle brands (Purelife, Poland Springs,) etc..

    The same can be said for tap water. Different cities regulate their water supply differently, so be sure to check what your city does to its supply before you drink it! Some cities add inorganic fluoride (not natural occurring organic fluoride!) Next they add tons and tons of chlorine, which contributes to many diseases!

  31. nahhh to me Fiji taste better than 90% of tap water that I've tasted. Im not saying Fiji is the best water out there. Although I do enjoy the smooth taste it has. But to say that tap taste better than fiji…. LIES lol

  32. study just came out how almost all the rivers on the planet contain antibiotics, or even lead…. So how am I supposed to be okay with drinking from the tap?

  33. All good points. One objection: The plastic is a free byproduct of refining oil for fuel. Our consumption of oil is unrelated to the quantity of plastic we produce. The statement about 1 million cars is nonsense.

  34. What could go wrong if profit-driven corporations gained control your city's public water systems? Watch our latest animation, The Story of Water! 👉🏽

  35. Sadly, I have to drink bottled water at the moment. We have well water, and it has been contaminated. I actually miss tap water.

  36. My father hated the entire concept of bottled water in general!
    It was one of his major pet peeves.
    He always called it the "biggest f'n waste of money ever."
    And I remember how annoyed he used to get whenever my mom went into the store and bought a bottle of water!
    I really think that she did it just to piss him off sometimes. She knew how he'd react. 😆
    But it still makes me laugh to think back on all the times he bitched so much about it. It was always quite funny.

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