Now you can pay for the convenience of water!

| June 1, 2009 | 7 Replies

This is now the second time in a few months that I’ve gotten the following piece of junk mail:

Bottled Water Junk Mail

This letter is advertising a promotion in which, for thirty-two dollars a month and up, I can pay to have bottled water delivered to my door. What a brilliant idea! How could you beat that for convenience?

Oh, that’s right:

Kitchen Sink

Instead of paying for Poland Spring water at the rate of about $1.64 per gallon, I could get clean, fresh, drinkable water of any temperature I please straight from the tap in my kitchen. I don’t know exactly how much this costs me, but I can say with complete confidence that it’s a lot less than a dollar per gallon.

Clearly, Poland Spring doesn’t want you to think too hard about the economics of this. However, for the environmentally conscious consumer, this mailing also has a page touting their green credentials:

Bottled Water Junk Mail

Recycling 900,000 bottles and keeping 1.8 million pounds of plastic out of landfills is certainly very impressive. But, the skeptic in me has to ask, wouldn’t it be much better for people to just use their perfectly good existing public infrastructure for drinking water, and not have to manufacture all that plastic in the first place?

The bottled-water industry is one of the great triumphs of modern marketing: creating demand for a product for which there’s absolutely no genuine need, selling at exorbitant cost a substance which any person in the Western world can obtain virtually for free. Even more absurd, despite its imagery of glaciers and mountain springs, most bottled water comes from municipal sources – i.e., the same water you get from your tap anyway.

What bottled water really represents is almost pure profit for the beverage conglomerates that sell it, and unnecessary environmental harm caused by the expenditure of fossil fuels needed to manufacture, pack and ship it (not to mention sending out all this junk mail touting it). It’s no healthier than the water that comes from the tap in your house. It doesn’t even taste better. What on earth could convince a person to pay money for a scheme as ridiculous as this?

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Category: Consumerism, Environment, Health, snake oil

About the Author ()

I'm an author, skeptic and computer programmer living in New York City. I'm also an unapologetic atheist, and believe passionately that freethinkers deserve a much stronger voice in our culture than they've been given in the past. Since politicians and the mainstream media aren't willing to give us that, it falls to us to take our case directly to the public. Both on my own weblog, Daylight Atheism, and here on Dangerous Intersection, I hope to be able to spread the good news of freethought!

Comments (7)

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  1. Geis says:

    $1.64 a gallon? I just got my water bill right here and it looks like I'm paying about 4.8 cents a gallon for the water and about 5.7 cents a gallon for the upkeep of the sewer system I dump it into when I'm done with it. A little over ten cents a gallon from the tap or $1.64 a gallon delivered in plastic bottles.

    A bargain at sixteen times the price. What a scam.

  2. Alison says:

    Unfortunately, some of us have to use bottled water because our municipal supply is undrinkable. I'm not as paranoid as many of my neighbors, many of whom were living here when a chemical spill poisoned the water table, but what comes out of my tap smells like a swimming pool. (Did someone think that chlorine would neutralize benzene? Ick.) Most of what I buy is the gallon sizes at the supermarket, but the home delivery is handy when I run out. In addition, the system is flushed out several times a year without notice, so the water will suddenly start coming from the tap in a deep, rich brown color that does wonders for your laundry.

    I've never needed bottled water before. Most people don't. Buying water by choice is pretty dumb, but if you have to, it's nice to know you can get it.

  3. Karl says:

    I pay for a reverse osmosis filter for the water our family consumes from the public water system. With the number of soluble chemicals that are either in the pre-treatment waste waters or which are used to treat the water to kill bacteria and other organisms found in water, I decided long ago to take the extra measure of removing some more of chemicals that my local township considers consumable.

    This of course adds a fair amount of cost per gallon that our family chooses to spend but that is the cost of not believing everything the public says is safe is really safe.

    Bottled water could actually be worse or better than what a local community supplies to the public in their region.

  4. Ebonmuse says:

    If your municipal water isn't potable, that's another matter, of course. Even in that case, however, I would say that a portable water filter is probably a much cheaper investment in the long run than paying for regular deliveries of bottled water.

  5. Karl says:

    Have you read the studies that show how many soluble chemicals from medications to drugs and strong oxidizing agents are found in "tolerable" levels in the public water supplies?

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,336286,00.htm

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-03-10-dr

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/there

  6. Scientiste says:

    @Karl:

    All those pretty little links prove that everyone should filter their water, not get bottled water, which is mostly direct from municipal water supplies (as stated above) and thus no better than faucet-borne liquid.

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    The environmental reasons to not buy bottled water, all in a cartoon. http://www.cagle.com/working/080226/greenberg21.j

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