If you're like most Americans, it's likely that you're reading this with a bottle of water nearby. How did those little plastic bottles become such a constant in our lives, and why are some people turning against them? Dr. Oz talks with Elizabeth Royte, author of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, about what's up with water.
Once it became possible to package water in cheap, lightweight bottles, Coca-Cola and Pepsi took an interest in the business, Elizabeth says. With the help of savvy advertising, the two companies helped bottled water grow from a $115 million business in 1990 to the $11.5 billion industry it is today.
Recently, advocacy groups have created a backlash against bottled water, arguing in favor of the economic and environmental benefits of simply drinking tap water from refillable bottles. Elizabeth notes that while many people drink bottled water because they find tap water unpleasant, there is an easy fix. She recommends letting a pitcher of water stand on the counter overnight, then refrigerating it—water always tastes better cold. Carbon filters also work well for removing chemical tastes from water, and on-tap or point-of-use filters use carbon blocks or reverse osmosis to help water taste fresh, Elizabeth says.
If drinkers continue to flock to bottled water, municipal supplies will suffer and public water sources will decline to a dangerous point, Elizabeth says. She wants to raise the public's consciousness about the safety of tap water and the importance of conserving the water we have left. She offers a few easy ways to make a difference:
Cut the length of daily showers by one minute.
Run the dishwasher (it saves more water than washing by hand), but only when it's full.
Wash the car on the lawn, allowing water to run down through the grass to recharge the aquifer.