By bottling it, corporations privatize our water

Bottled Water Sales: The Shocking Reality

The numbers are in for 2012, and they are shocking. The Beverage Marketing Corporation, which tracks sales and consumption of beverages, is reporting that sales of bottled water grew nearly 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, with consumption reaching a staggering 30.8 gallons per person. And since I (and some of you) consume almost zero bottled water every year, there are people out there drinking far more than the average.

Thirty-six years ago, this industry didn’t exist. Americans drank fewer than two gallons of bottled water per year, and almost all of that was in the form of water from big office coolers. Figure 1 shows the dramatic exponential growth in bottled water sales over this period. There was a slight downturn in 2008 and 2009, attributed in part to a growing public campaign against bottled water and in part to the severe recession, but sales have resumed their upward climb as companies cut the price of bottles and launched an even more aggressive media and advertising blitz.

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