Plastic Water Bottles: How many will just say No.

One thing has always, ALWAYS, been clear to me about the bottled water market. The market has been driven more by the inherent laziness of consumers than by any fear of the municipal water supply.

How ironic, considering all those people working out with bottles of water in their mitts.

The attraction is the handy size, and the fact that most of us are too absent minded to keep a reusable water bottle full of water in our briefcase, backpack or car. It is not because we doubt the quality of the water from our tap or the office cooler.

As public information mounts about the environmental havoc these ubiquitous bottles cause, companies who make huge profits on hand-held bottles of water are in a panic. Coca-Cola, Dannon, PepsiCo, Nestle.

Beverage Digest reports retail sales of bottled water (excluding vending machines and Walmart) grew only 9% this year compared with 16% in 2006. Explanations abound. For one, it seems people who are paying more for gas, mortgage payments and education are taking a harder look at how much they are paying for…water. It adds up, just like those lattes at Starbuck’s. But there does seem to be multiple factors eroding the growth of water, and one of those factors is the leading edge of green consumers choosing to refill water bottles instead of buying water.

According to water-filtration company Brita (owned by bleach giant Clorox), Americans discard 38 billion plastic water bottles per year, and it takes 1.5 billion barrels of oil to produce them.

Sounding just like the lobby it is, the International Bottled Water Association wants regulators and consumers to know that, before we get hysterical about water bottles, any attempt to regulate consumer packaging should address all categories, not just water bottles.

To which I say: why not start a new campaign with water bottles. Get people thinking about water bottles, and the thinking tends to spread to other parts of their lives.

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