Why Americans Are Finally Buying More Bottled Water than Soda

While a move away from soda is a good thing, the real problem seems to be that people living with sketchy water pipes don’t really have any choice but to buy the bottled stuff.

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Aug 8 2016, 2:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Steven Depolo

Good news, America! We're finally moving away from sugary, dehydrating, disease-inducing sodas and buying healthier bottle water. In fact, for the first time ever, Americans are buying more bottled water than sugary soft drinks.

Bad news, America! It's not really for health reasons—the underlying force is actually way darker.

The steady growth of water's popularity is nothing new. Bottled water consumption has climbed 120 percent between 2000 and 2015, while the popularity of sweet carbonated drinks dropped 16 percent over the same period. Even giants like Pepsi are trying to distance themselves from their former flagship colas in favor of healthier products.

But according to a new report by Bloomberg, Americans are buying bottled water not because it's good for them, but because the country's infrastructure is crumbling. Specifically, because of old, decaying pipes across this great nation, which will cost an estimated $384 million to repair and should be up to speed by the year 2290, at this rate.

READ MORE: The Drinking Water Has Been Poisoning Children in This Michigan City

This very sad reality is playing right into the hands of giant beverage corporations like Nestle Waters, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, who are capitalizing on the fact that a lot of people straight up don't want to drink the water that comes out of their taps.

Recent lead contaminations in Washington, DC; Newark, New Jersey; and, most notably, Flint, Michigan have made bottled water an attractive option for the many Americans fearing unsafe drinking water. "Concerns in places like Flint do bring bottled water to people's attention as a safe and sealed source of drinking water," Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Nestle Waters North America, told Bloomberg.

But bottled water is hardly the solution to this problem. The bottles are brutal on the environment and that "cheap" bottle of water costs 2,000 times more than tap water. So, while a move away from soda is a good thing, the real problem seems to be that people living with sketchy water pipes don't really have any choice but to buy the bottled stuff.

Follow the money and it's pretty clear who's benefiting from this—and it's not consumers.

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