Bottled Water Sales Nearly Overtake Soda Sales in the U.S. — Good or Bad?

April 22, 2016 / James Knowles

Bottled Water Sales Nearly Overtake Soda Sales in the U.S. — Good or Bad?

As Americans become more health conscious, our food and beverage purchasing habits are shifting. Americans are drinking more bottled water than ever according to market research firm, Beverage Marketing Corp. In fact, bottled water is predicted to surpass bottled soda sales sometime this year, which is a good thing — right? Well, not entirely and let’s look at why.

First of all — why the increase in bottled water sales?

In 2015, we bought the equivalent of 1.7 billion half-liter bottles of water every week according to Beverage Marketing Corp. That’s more than five bottles of water for every person in the country, every single week. Rewind two decades and the typical American didn’t even consume a half-bottle per week.

There are many reasons for this dramatic increase in bottled water’s popularity including:

  • Americans are becoming more focused on healthy living habits
  • New studies are linking sugar-laden sodas to obesity, diabetes and other illnesses
  • Growing fears surrounding local tap water (think Flint, Michigan)

These key factors are compounded by the fact that major beverage companies like Pepsi (Aquafina) and Coke (Dasani) have entered the market and use their massive marketing budgets to encourage consumers to get away from sugary sodas and choose the healthy alternative.

So what’s the problem?

While springing for the occasional bottle of water is to be expected, habitually drinking bottled water has some distinct drawbacks:

  • Bottled water has an immense environmental footprint.

Only about a third of all bottles of water consumed in the United States are recycled, meaning that about two-thirds end up in the garbage according to Paul Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute. Even the recycled plastic bottles require a vast amount of energy to recycle.

  • Many plastic bottles can contain toxins

While many companies are now creating BPA-free plastic bottles, there are still a ton of chemicals that can potentially seep into your water over time — especially when left in the heat or direct sunlight.

  • Bottled water isn’t necessarily better than tap

Bottled water is 10,000x more expensive than tap water and not necessarily better. In terms of quality, tap water faces far more regulations and testing in cities than any water bottling company in the country. And let’s face it — a quarter of all bottled water comes from a tap anyway!

Some easy alternatives to the bottled stuff

  • For on-the-go, purchase a durable, BPA-free water bottle that you can refill.
  • Purchase a water filter pitcher to keep in your refrigerator like a Brita or something similar.
  • Purchase a sink faucet filtration system that you can add to your faucet to further filter your tap water.

So if you’re the type that constantly has a bottle of water next to you, try making some simple changes and it’ll help your wallet, your health and the environment!