Water Bottles Are About To Outsell Soda, And Here's The Depressing Reason Why

Welp. I guess all it took was a dose of crumbling infrastructure for us finally to make the transition to consuming more water.

According to Bloomberg, the biggest bottled-water companies are reporting that bottled water will be more popular than soda for the first time in the United States this year. Why? Because everybody’s concerned over the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

For anybody who doesn’t know, in April 2014, it was discovered that there was a drinking water contamination issue in Flint, Michigan, after Flint changed its water source to the Flint River. Flint’s drinking water eventually was discovered to have lead contamination, which posed a serious public health danger.

Since then, America’s decaying pipes have garnered massive amounts of attention, with Bloomberg estimating that the renovations needed to improve and maintain essential parts of our country’s infrastructure through 2030 will cost at least $384 billion.

“Concerns in places like Flint do bring bottled water to people’s attention as a safe and sealed source of drinking water,” said Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Nestle Waters North America, the largest bottled-water maker.

Unfortunately, buying bottled water isn’t the most environmentally conscious solution -- or even one that is necessarily needed. President emeritus and chief scientist at the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, says that bottled water is about 2,000 times more expensive than tap on average; additionally, it takes triple the amount of water to actually manufacture those plastic bottles than the amount of water actually contained within them. Add that to the fact that only about 30 percent of plastic bottles end up being recycled, and we have a huge waste output on our hands.

That’s not to say that bottled water is itself a terrible innovation; in places like Flint, Michigan, of course, sometimes bottled water is actually the only safe option.

“Bottled water might be a band-aid solution for situations like Flint,” John Stewart, deputy director of Corporate Accountability International said, “but it is definitely not a long-term solution for providing daily drinking water needs.”