As water becomes our most precious resource, it also becomes more commercialized and privatized. And as competition increases, companies need to find a way to make more profit, usually at the cost of quality.
If one third of tested bottled water brands violated microbiological-purity standards, where do we get clean water from to drink?
70 percent of all bottled water produced and sold within the US is exempt from FDA regulation since it is sold over state lines.
And while America has some of safest tap water in the world, many city water systems need repair and upgrading.
Safety isn't the only problem. Americans purchased about 37 billion bottles of water in 2005. It takes more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles and rather than be recycled, 80 percent are thrown away.
So what can we do?
- Invest in a carbon filter that you attach directly to your faucet or a filter system that is portable for your fridge. Also, buy a stainless steel thermos to keep your water safe during the day. Bottled water can cost up to $11 per gallon in the supermarket but tap water costs only one tenth of one cent per gallon.
- Tell Congress to increase funding to keep America's tap water clean and safe. You can go online to the Environmental Working Group's National Tap Water Defense to see how safe your city's water is.
- Be smart about what bottled water you purchase. Some bottled water companies support local communities, for example Fiji Water gives their workers double the normal minimum wage. While we may look down on Fiji Water for using fossil fuels to export their water, it is one of the island's largest commodities, supporting the majority of the local population.