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Posted on: July 9, 2019 at 8:51 pm
Last updated: July 10, 2019 at 11:29 am

Water is essential for human survival, it’s a basic need for our complex human code. Water is actually more essential to us than food. In the case of survival; your body can sustain itself for over one-month without food, but only a mere 3-5 days without water.

So why do we pay money for bottled water? 

Brands like Nestlé (Pure Life), PepsiCo(Aquafina), Coca-Cola (Dasani/SmartWater) and Fiji do not really care about your health or hydration level, they’re just profiting off the fact that humans need water to survive, and they know that we’ll pay for it.

In the rural county of Mecosta, Michegan, lies a Nestlé water bottle factory. It’s one of roughly 100 on this planet. Within this facility lies ten production lines, each one funnels spring water into 8-ounce to 2.5 gallon containers. Most lines pump out 500 to 1,200 bottles per minute, and this factory produces a potential 3.5 million bottles a day.

There are also silos here, holding 125 tons of plastic resin pellets, which function as materials for new plastic bottles. You should know that the plastic bottles that you recycle are not typically re-used, as it’s cheaper to make new plastic than up-cycle the recycled. These resin pellets are molded into shape by temperatures reaching 400F, before they’re filled, capped, inspected, labeled and printed with the date, time and location. This entire process takes less than 25 seconds.

Bottles are then bundled, piled on pallets, picked up and brought to a warehouse or loading dock. This is just one of many water bottle brands. However, despite its competition, Nestlé is the biggest globally in terms of sales. They’re followed by Coca-Cola, Danone, and PepsiCo.

In 2015 the bottled water industry was valued at 185 billion and it’s expected to reach 334 billion by 2023. Globally, humans purchase a million plastic bottles per minute. While water consumption has officially outplaced soda/pop consumption, we shouldn’t be proud of this as a nation. 

Yes, water is better than pop, but most people choose bottled water because they think it’s healthier,  consumers are concerned with their tap water quality (which they should be). However, bottled water is not a better long-term solution.

Bottled water is one of the biggest scams of the century. At an average cost of $1.22 per gallon, we’re spending 300 times more on bottled water than we’d spend to drink from the tap. When you also take into consideration that an estimated 60% of bottled water is actually tap water, sometimes further treated, and sometimes not. What are we really paying for?

After the Flint Michigan water scare, which by the way – it’s been over five years, and the crisis there is still nowhere near over. More and more people are now choosing bottled water as a ‘safer and healthier alternative’. 

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We drink bottled water for what we hope is not in it.

While Nestlé isn’t the only bottled water company, it is by far the most controversial.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola both bottle municipal water (tap water) for their Aquafina and Dasani/Smart Water brands. In short, they pay city rates for tap water, filtered,  and then sell their product back to you for profit. 

So either you’re paying Coca-Cola and PepsiCo a ridiculous markup on filtered tap water, or you’re choosing ‘Natural Spring Water’ from brands like Nestlé.

While spring water sounds like it would be the better choice, Nestlé is sucking up spring water directly from the source. Water conservationists say it does more damage to the flow of streams, rivers, and wetland ecology than using tap water. 

It’s been killing Canada. Until recently, British Columbia did not regulate the use of industrial groundwater and they allowed Nestlé to extract millions of litres a year from a well in Hope, British Columbia. For free. Only to charge us for it in a bottle. Up until 2017, in Ontario, Canada Nestlé was allowed to extract up to 4.7 million liters of water a day, at a cost of around $17.44 CAD ($13.31 USD). Permits to take water have since increased to an additional $500 for every million litres of groundwater taken.

It’s happening on a bigger scale in the U.S. Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water near Flint Michigan, where the water is still undrinkable. While Flint battles a water crisis, just two hours away this beverage giant pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles.

How is this allowed?

The horror story continues. Back when all the news could talk about was the record-breaking drought in California, Nestle continued to extract 36 million gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest, while Californians were ordered to cut back on their own water use.

Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute focuses specifically on water issues and states: “Every gallon of water that is taken out of a natural system for bottled water is a gallon of water that doesn’t flow down a stream, that doesn’t support a natural ecosystem”.

Is Tap Water the Solution

Tap water fears are valid, and we’re also creatures of convenience – that’s why bottled water exists, mainly. If tap water should be avoided, it’s easier for people to purchase a bottle of water, out of sheer laziness and ignorance, than fill their own re-usable bottle and set-up a water filtration system at home. 

Water filtration is a modern-day essential, especially for those who are health conscious. In Canada and the USA, many water systems violate testing requirements or rules about contamination in drinking water. Currently, Whole Foods is being penalized for dangerous levels of arsenic in their water bottles.  

In agriculture-heavy regions, pesticides, fertilizers, and nitrates from animal waste leach into the ground, and despite our dedication to safe drinking water, harmful chemical restrictions aren’t monitored as carefully as we would hope. Most water treatment systems aren’t designed to remove these hormones, antidepressants, and other drugs in our water.

Sustainable Hydration

We need to put an end to the mega-harvesting of spring water. As a planet, we’re now actually running low on our natural resources. There’s an issue of scarcity with many, and when it comes to water, The United Nations expects that 1.8 billion people will live in places with water shortages by 2025, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under stressed water conditions. 

A Michigan State University study predicts that more than a third of Americans might not be able to afford their water bills in five years, as costs are anticipated to triple.

What will we drink?

 It’s time that we start thinking about the long-term, and invest in whole-home or portable filtration system. Tap water may not be the best solution. 

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While tap water is treated for our safety, it does not mean that it should be considered as ‘clean’.

Although our water undergoes an essential disinfection process to destroy most harmful organisms like bacteria and parasites, the chlorination of our water supply won’t eliminate all the harmful components, in fact: chlorine may be doing more harm by also killing the good microbes in your gut.

Below are some of the top contaminants that can make their way into our tap water:

  • Disease-carrying microorganisms that derive from the stool of infected animals and people
  • Homes built in the 70’s are also commonly equipped with lead and copper pipes, and with corrosion – unwanted lead and copper can also find their way into your water supply
  • Heavy metals, nitrates, prescription medications, hormones, chemical fertilizers, pesticide runoff, arsenic and fluoride are also present in our ‘safe’ tap water.  

When you purchase ‘natural spring’ bottled water for hydration, you’re further fueling the destructive oil industry, you’re also supporting theft from nature, and increasing the presence of toxic plastics in our world. Plastic is a man-made pollutant that’s killing our planet, and we’re putting mother nature’s resources in it, only to create more plastic waste. Do we care about the planet at all?

Your Two Best Water Filtration Systems

If you care, invest in a sustainable home water filtration system. You may choose a whole-home water filtration system such as Reverse Osmosis.  A R.O. system hooks up to the plumbing in your home, so you will have filtered water coming straight out of whatever tap you hook the system up to. A reverse osmosis system uses a process that reverses the flow of water in the natural process of osmosis, the water will pass from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution through a semipermeable membrane.

Reverse osmosis systems are very effective in removing:

  • Viruses (Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus, etc.)
  • Bacteria (Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, etc.)
  • Protozoa (Cryptosporidium, Giardia, etc.)
  • Heavy Metals, Nitrates, Prescription Medications, Hormones, Chemical Fertilizers, Pesticide Runoff
  • Common chemical contaminants: sodium, chloride, copper, chromium, lead, arsenic, fluoride, radium, sulfate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus

Reverse osmosis filters are definitely pricier, and a permanent installment, but they last for years. If this is an option for you, have a chat with the staff at your local hardware or home improvement store as they will be able to advise you on all your options.

If you need something that runs at a lower price, and is portable – in the case that you don’t own your home, you should consider the Berkey countertop water filter. 

This gravity water purification system has been tested and confirmed to remove or greatly reduce the following contaminants:

  • Viruses
  • Pathogenic Bacteria
  • Trihalomethanes (chemical compounds that can be formed when water is disinfected with chlorine)
  • Inorganic Minerals: Chloramine; Chloride; Chlorine Residual (Total Residual Chlorine); Free Chlorine
  • Heavy Metals: Aluminum, Antimony, Barium, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Cobalt, Chromium, Chromium 6, Copper, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Vanadium,  Zinc
  • Microorganisms: Total Coliform, Fecal Coliform, e.Coli
  • Pharmaceutical Drug Contaminants: Acetaminophen, Caffeine, Bisphenol A, Progesterone, Ibuprofen,Naproxen Sodium, Triclosan, etc.
  • Pesticides & Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Also removes/reduces: Arsenic, Manganese, Nitrites, PCB’s, Petroleum Products, Selenium, Rust, Foul Tastes and Odors.
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Read the complete Berkey purification specs

While a Berkey has a higher upfront cost, when compared to pitcher filtration models, it’s really the most cost-effective in the long run. Don’t waste your time with Brita, they are only basic carbon filters, which relatively speaking don’t filter out that much.  The Berkey is low-maintenance and pays off in the long-term.

Each Berkey filter element has a life of just over 11,400 litres (3,000 gallons). For a family of four drinking the recommended 7.5 litres per day (8 cups per person), you would need to replace the filter every 4 years at the cost of $100 to $120 CAD. 

Compare that to Brita pitcher, the filter needs to be replaced every 150 litres (40 gallons). For a family of four drinking the same recommendation you would need to replace the filter every 20 days. With 18 filters a year at $8 each, you’re paying over $145 a year and you may still have pesticides, pathogenic yeasts and bacteria and arsenic in your water.

A Berkey may cost more upfront in comparison to a pitcher or a pack of water bottles, however it’s a sustainable solution. If you can’t install a whole-home reverse osmosis filter, this is truly your best option. Your total start up cost would be around or under $400, depending on if you choose extra filters or accessories. Compare that to $3,114.67, the estimated annual cost of drinking from plastic bottled water – your total savings for one year of filtered drinking water could be $2714.67

Not to mention, if you give up the plastic water bottles, you are decreasing your estimated annual household waste by 4,380 plastic bottles.

If you’re still reading this article, it means that you care about your health and the planet. Considering that new phone or computer is well over $1,000, saving to afford a long-term water filtration system can definitely work into budget.

Boycott bottled water.

Read more on water filtration

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Nicole Eckert
Holistic Nutritionist
Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. On her holistic living blog: holisticole.com - you can find amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs.

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