Americans drink so much bottled water because it is easy and has been marketed as the best tasting and the best for you. As more health studies are released, it is proving to be the opposite, quite wasteful, and not a very sustainable practice.
I think there are a number of reasons for it. Good marketing is certainly one. In the 1990s particularly, many Americans began to get most of their groceries from “big box” or warehouse stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club, and WinCo, whose profit margins depended on buying (and selling) in bulk. Bottled water is a very good commodity to buy in bulk and it’s cheaper than having an in-home cooler installed and paying a service to come deliver water jugs to your house every week. In many places in the US, particularly Southern California, there is a widespread perception that tap water is not safe to drink and some form of bottled water is your only alternative. Also as we’ve gotten more active and busy it’s much more convenient to take a prepackaged bottle of water with you in your car, for your lunch at work or on a hike than it is to buy a canteen or water jug and keep constantly refilling it. I think another factor is that, despite (or maybe even because of?) the obesity epidemic, many people are dieting and watching their weight. Restaurants, cafes and other eating establishments, especially those who cater to workers on their lunch hour, began to stock bottled water as an alternative to sodas, and huge sales resulted. As Nadeged points out, however, bottled water is too much of a “good” thing, and now we have a tremendous environmental problem with all those bottles, setting aside the effects of the water itself–which ironically in many places is just the same as the water you get from your kitchen tap.
Tailing off of the idea that tap water isn’t good for you, I think there’s a perception of safety that comes with it. If you travel to Mexico, for instance, y ou’re warned not to drink the water as it usually contains a host of parasites that can be detrimental to your health. Before the trend for steel and other sustainably made containers emerged, bottled water was the best suitable option. It became a mindset that mistakenly tried to supported a healthy, convenient lifestyle.
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