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Sophia Masciarelli

Assessing the Arguments


Energy & Sustainability
Due 05.01.17

Claims made by the The Story of Bottled Water:


1. Bottled water costs 2000 times more than tap water.
2. People in the United States buy more than half a billion bottles of water
every week (enough to circle the globe more than 5 times).
3. One third of bottled water in the US comes from filtered tap sources.
4. Each year, making the plastic for these water bottles takes enough oil to
fuel a million cars (plus what it takes to ship it).
5. 80% of plastic bottles end up in landfills.
6. In the US, tap water infrastructure is underfunded by $24 billion dollars.

Testing claims against Energy Implications of Bottled Water (2009):


1. True; between manufacturing costs, energy costs, transportation and
distribution costs, the cost of keeping these bottles chilled, and finally brand
markup, the cost of bottled water tends to be around 2000 times more than
conventional tap water.
2. Cannot be assessed using this document.
3. True; in the United States, approximately 44% of all bottled water
originated as municipal water. So really, the data given by The Story of Bottled
Water is conservative, as the true value is significantly higher.
4. Cannot be assessed using this document; however, an equivalent to 34-
54 million barrels of oil can be linked to plastic water bottle production (globally it
is 3 times this number). It does not explicitly say the equivalent in car gas tanks.
5. Cannot be assessed using this document.
6. Cannot be assessed using this document; however I did find a study that
suggests current tap water infrastructure is underfunded by a ghastly $100 billion
(see link here).

Relying on the Life Cycle Analysis in Gleick's article, speculate on where the most
effective changes in the bottled water process might take place.
Obviously, a change that would make this system infinitely more effective would be to
eliminate it entirely. By revamping local water treatment facilities and installing more
efficient infrastructure across the nation we can shape the way in which water is
consumed for the better and lessen our burden on the planet. Now of course this is not
viable or realistic, but it would be the most effective. Other changes include companies
pushing to make their impact lower or even neutral, or by educating consumers to only
purchase and consume bottled water in absolute emergency, instead of as their sole
source. I think that the most effective changes are going to have to take place with the
consumer, because ultimately they are the most powerful part of the process.

Conclusion:
Sophia Masciarelli
Assessing the Arguments
Energy & Sustainability
Due 05.01.17

The bottled water industry is seemingly very complex, but upon further investigation
proves to be very simple. What we have here is a system of constructed truths set forth
to consumers by the greedy who have little regard for anything besides profit--including
the health of our economy and world as a whole. Proprietors are relying on the fear and
mistrust dynamic which they have instilled in the minds of customers which force them
to make the switch. This switch has resulted in an incredible stress onto our ecosystem
and a flood of profit into the pockets of those who have learned to capitalize on our
want for security and safety.