Why pay for something that is free?

July 09, 2012 | Peggy Martin

Why pay for something that is free?

Everyone knows staying hydrated is important, especially during periods of physical activity and in warmer weather. Most people agree that drinking water is better than buying soft drinks.

What I do not understand is the growing trend toward bottled water. Why do smart people pay for something that is free? Is it for the convenience of carrying a bottle around? Or the taste? Or the status of higher priced waters? Or is it the mistaken notion that the bottled water is healthier?

Many times the expensive bottled product is actually coming from municipal water supplies, just like tap water. While bottled water providers advertise a purified, fresh product, the reality is that these companies are less regulated than municipal water suppliers.

What is the cost difference?

Tap water costs less than a cent per glass. The cost for bottled water depends on the brand and how you purchase it. Even if you can get a 16 ounce bottle for $.30 that adds up to $2.40 a gallon.

Most of the cost for bottled water is not the water—it’s the bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, other expenses, and profit. In Iowa gas is about $3.50 a gallon. If you pay $.80 for your bottle water you are paying the same for water as you are for gas.

What about the effects of all that plastic on the environment?

According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans buy an estimated 34.6 billion single-serving (1 liter or less) plastic water bottles each year. Almost eight out of ten end up in a landfill or incinerator. Hundreds of millions end up as litter on roads and beaches or in streams and other waterways. Taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in disposal and litter cleanup costs. [HTML1]


Peggy Martin

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