Bottled water for sale . . . Really?


I had this dream last night that I hated to see end.  I had become a multi-millionaire and won the Nobel Peace Prize, all for inventing and perfecting a method of delivering an essential product to people across the globe.  Through hours of dedication and tireless energy, I came up with this method of collecting water, purifying it, and delivering it with pipes to individual homes and buildings, where individuals could fill a glass with the life saving liquid by simply pressing a button or turning a knob!  People could even fill jugs with my water and store it in refrigerators to drink later at a nice chilled temperature.  They could carry it with them in a jug, a mug, a cup, a thermos – even in an empty bottle.  I even took it a step further by – get this – adding fluorine to the water, thus making it a gangbuster method of preventing tooth decay.  The best part of it was that the water was cheap, even free to people choosing to drink it at water fountains and in restaurants.  I was an international hero!

But then, as with any great dream, the alarm clock sounded, and I was faced with the sad reality that this invention has been with us for years.  Cheap, potable water, I remembered, is easily available to each and every one of us, right there in the old kitchen tap.  All anyone has to do is lift a lever and turn a knob and the stuff comes gushing out.  You can drink it there, or bottle it up and carry it with you, all at a price of about a penny a gallon.

After shaking my head, I was still confused.  The question, which I still have been unable to answer, is this: why in the hell do people pay to buy small bottles of the same stuff that pours out of their home tap, practically free of charge?  Why do my friends and family clamor to pay three or four dollars for a “sale” of 24 packs of .5 liter plastic bottles that will litter the planet for perpetuity?  What is up with this?  Really, if someone thirty years ago had predicted that companies would rake in millions of dollars in profits selling bottled water to people in developed nations, they would have been laughed off the street.  But now the joke is on us, isn’t it?

The excuses I hear are primarily these: (1) it tastes better and (2) it’s convenient for traveling and such.  Please indulge me while I promptly torch these lame justifications in turn.

First, potable water is potable water.  If it is not polluted, and if it is free of salt, it’s all the same thing: two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.  And neither of those elements has any taste at all.  By imagining a difference in taste between bottled water purchased in a store and water bottled in your own kitchen, you are succumbing to the ultimate placebo.  Yes, slight differences in taste might exist between geographic areas due to differing mineral contents.  But if your goal is to save money and to become financially independent, don’t be a wuss.  Buck up, drink the free water, and avoid this silly expense.

If you still aren’t convinced and instead believe that there are icky things hiding in your water supply, then buy a simple tap filter and produce your own “bottled water.”

Finally, as for the convenience myth, how gullible and/or lazy must we be?  Surely we all realize that any person with basic hand-eye coordination can fill a water bottle.  That is exactly what you should do if you feel a need to take it with you on a trip.  In the meantime, please, add bottled water to the list of items you should never buy if you want to perfect a practical frugal lifestyle.

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3 Responses to Bottled water for sale . . . Really?

  1. Pingback: Products and Services you should NEVER buy (continued) | Practical Frugal Living

  2. Tails says:

    Love the blog and different perspective. Reading through chronologically. Perhaps you’ve already discovered this attorney’s frugal blog:

    * * *
    Please keep in mind your frame of reference and bias. Just like with frugality, people are at different stages of development. Solely looking at the bottled water to tap water conversion, the real effects of which are small, leaves out large potential gains in health, waste, and expenses. The biggest gain here is converting alcohol/juice/soda/beer/milk drinkers to water, bottled or tap. Below is a comparison with your hybrid analysis. Again, the biggest gain is not from SUV to compact, but from compact to walking/cycling. Small gains are fine, but large gains are satisfying, however, at the expense of time and willpower.

    SUV > all other transport [Level -100]
    Hybrid > SUV [Level -10]
    Compact > Hybrid [Level 0]
    Cycling > Compact [Level 10]
    Walking > all other transport [Level 100]

    Cognac > all other drinks [Level -100]
    Soda/Juice/Milk/Beer > FIJI water [Level -10]
    FIJI water > Bottled Water [Level 0]
    Bottled Water > Tap Water [Level 10]
    Tap Water > all other drinks [Level 100]

    * * *
    “But people who prefer to drink bottled water should not be treated as pariahs, because they are making a much more ecological choice than those of us who choose to consume other beverages.”

    “Why bottled water is good for the environment”

  3. JTD says:

    Bottled water is the ultimate scam second only to Religion…
    It also reflects the dropping I.Q. of Americans these days…
    I bet if someone sold Bottled Air there’d be just as many suckers, given time…

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