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This bottle of water costs what?!?!

February 1, 2013

While watching the commercial of Nestle’s  ‘purelife’ bottled water commercial the other day, got me thinking that what is the intention of that ad. The lady tries to take the soda can and hands over the bottled water to her family instead. One thing led to the other and hence the idea for this post came up.

I recently read a three part series article about the bottled water and why is it bad for us, our environment and WATER. It was definitely an eye opener however, more than that it was a trip down the memory lane to the founding years of my career.

I am summarizing my experiences under the broad headings, which I have adopted from the original article.

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Part 1: Why the bottled water is bad?

When I had started working in a local environmental non-profit in India, the first and foremost issue in the urban conservation context that we addressed was the bottled water. This issues was brought  to light by a leading national non-profit, Center for Science and Environment in the later 90s/early 2000s

It was only a decade ago in the year 2003. Over the years, I have only seen an increasing trend of bottled water consumption.

  1. Bottled Water is Expensive: To this one, I can easily say tell me about it. I have seen bottled water prices going from maybe 7 INR/liter to upto 20 INR/liter over the span of 10 years. I can vividly remember a man raising hell inside a multiplex in Delhi for the outrageous prices they charge. If you had gone to watch a movie in New Delhi, you can easily prepare yourself to pay up to 25-30 INR/liter of bottled water! It’s so unregulated that you fail to understand as to how is it continuing unabatedly. 
  2. Bottled Water Keeps People in Poverty: Increasingly, the incidences of exploitation came out wherever bottling plants of the multinationals were established in India. The corporations were not paying a fair share to the landowners from where the groundwater was extracted, especially in the southern India states. Moreover, it encourages the unsustainable practice of buying pricy bottled water where the potable water is not readily available to the poor.
  3. Bottled Water is Bad for Your Health: This topic is however beyond the scope of this blog as it might take an entire thesis to summarize these points. One incidence that I remember from my early professional years was a news article that I came across. It was about a little girl in some middle eastern country, who didn’t give up the beautiful bottle after it was empty and ready to be disposed. She continued to carry the water in the same bottle to her school unaware of the deadly Phthalate (a chemical group used to make the plastic bottles for bottled water, which can leech into the water and is a potential cancer causing agent.) leaching into the water little by little everyday. I am not sure whether she survived or not however, I believe some type of cancer was diagnosed in that little girl. That was the reason why that article was published in the first place. Additionally, the bottling companies/plants are not adding the chemicals and so on in the water. It is leaching in the groundwater from the neighboring polluted aquifer . So think twice before you buy.
  4. Bottled water could be stored and transported in unhygienic conditions: I recently read an article about the soda cans covered with rat urine, which can spread all kinds of virus and bacteria. (Please click here) Who is watching where the bottled waters are getting stored and how are they being transported from point A to B. The transportation also contributes to the  carbon emissions, which is another topic of discussion.
  5. Still in doubt? Check out the Bottled Water Scorecard put out by the Environmental Working Group to see how the bottled water you drink measures up:

What is the alternative?

The solution

The solution

It’s so simple that you would be surprised that why didn’t I think of this before! Just buy a BPA safe water bottle and fill it with tap water. Still not convinced, then you can buy any good quality water filter at home and keep filling your water bottle with it every time you step out of the house. I can tell you that my husband and I follow this rule religiously. We have resolved never to buy bottled water.

This is the summary of the original article in my own words. To read the original article and glossary for the data and stats used in the original article please click here.

  1. Thanks for spreading the word about the negatives of bottled water. I was wondering what NGO you worked for in India?


    • Hi There,
      Thank you very much for your message!
      I had worked with a range of NGOs in India, the last one being World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India.


      • Thanks for the response. Have you worked for any water/sanitation related NGOs in India?


  2. Hi bluenow, I never noticed this comment before. I had worked with a few grassroots nonprofits in my home town and neighboring districts on WASH issues. Please inbox me your email and I will send the names.


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  1. Making the world “plastic free” | theflipsideofdevelopment
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  3. 5 years old but still relevant, esp. on Earth Day 2018 | theflipsideofdevelopment

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