5 Arguments against bottled “mineral water”

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

mineral-waterTap water costs almost nothing and comes conveniently out of the tap (or faucet, as our American cousins call it). Still most people buy water in bottles. Does that really make sense? Here are five arguments that fairly and squarely speak out against the purchase and use of bottled water.

Bottled (mineral) water is not as clean as claimed

Water is clean, fresh and healthy. Or is it? As clear as the water looks in the glass so shady and obscure is often its quality. German consumer watchdog organizations have found in 10 of 30 samples of “mineral” water tested residues of synthetic sweeteners, of pesticides and in ones of them of a corrosion preventative. Other tests have shown that in at least one-fifths of all samples pesticide residues were present. Despite the fact that according to the test reports the amounts of contaminants found in the samples are not injurious to health there must remain doubts to the supposed cleanliness of such water.

The often touted health benefits of mineral water also has been put into question as only 6 of 30 samples of such water had any higher amount of minerals than tap water. Furthermore time and again scientists discovered hormone disrupting chemicals in such bottled water, the origin of which are mostly unknown, though it can be assumed that they come from the PET-bottles in which the water was bottled.

While it is possible that contamination by pesticides, bacteria and the residues from pharmaceutics can occur also in tap water in general, however, water from the faucet, at least in Germany, Britain and other highly developed countries, is one of the most rigidly tested and controlled substance for human consumption. The same is not the case with bottled (spring) water. While, for instance in London, UK, the water is tested at least eight times during the day bottled water can go for months and months without ever being tested.

Bottled water, more often than not, is not regional and comes from long distances to the consumer, often from hundreds and more miles away.

Plastic bottles are far from harmless

The great majority of all bottled waters are – nowadays – sold in plastic PET bottles. PET, like most other synthetic materials, is produced using a high amount of energy and is based on oil or a derivative thereof. Alone for this reason its use is questionable on ecological grounds. And many of those plastic bottles are non-returnable (though in Germany returnable PET bottles with deposit are in use in the majority) and more often than not do not end up in the recycling stream even but go to landfill where they will tale hundreds of years to decay, and even that decay is not harmless.

Aside from that PET has been associated with BPA, as has polycarbonate and some other plastics, which is an endorphin- and hormone disruptor and should be avoided, especially for children.

The healthiest choice for both man and the environment is the use of reusable bottles and tap water.

Mineral water” is expensive

The cheapest “mineral waters” cost about 25 cent per liter, branded ones start at about 70 cent on a scale that is rather open ended. A liter of tap water, on the other hand, is less than 0.2 cent. Thus, for six pack with 1.5 liter bottles of the cheapest bottled water the consumer ends up paying about 1.35 Eur. For the same amount of tap water it would not even come to 2 cent. Therefore, changing over to using tap water a substantial saving can be had.

Multinational corporations do dirty dealings with bottled water

Since 2010 the right to access to clean drinking water has been declared to be a basic human right. However, while millions of people still cannot get clean drinking water multinationals such as Nestlé, Coca Cola and PepsiCo still consider water a profitable commodity. Those corporations buy up public accessible wells and springs, bottle the water and then sell this water on as mineral or table water to consumers at a highly inflated rate. In the past this practice has in many regions, such as Pakistan, caused a drop in the ground water level and has caused a dearth of water for the population.

Even if enough water is available not everywhere, alas, is tap water safe to drink let alone that from wells and springs and thus there are times when bottled water may be a practical solution and Nestlé and others also tend to support clean drinking water projects in developing countries. However, the question remains: ist it permissible that water become a commodity and the answer here, in my opinion, must be a strong and emphatic no. Period.

Despite this and the fact that access to clean and safe water has been declared a fundamental human right Nestlé have declared that they do not accept this and that water should and must be a free tradeable commodity to make big bucks with.

© 2014