Aqua Fina

Despite growing concerns over exposure to the toxic chemical BPA (bisphenol-A) widely found in plastic bottles and the excessive costs coupled with mounting waste associated with bottled water, Americans are drinking more of it than ever, cites sales figures reported by Beverage Marketing Corp.

Total sales of bottled water in the U.S. hit more than 9 billion gallons in 2011, the highest volume of bottled water sold in the country’s history, and a more than 4 percent increase over 2010. It amounts to some 222 bottles of water for every person in the country, or roughly 4 bottles per week for a year. But it’s not the biggest year by sales. Although the country spent $21.7 billion on bottled water last year, sales were actually just under 2007’s spending, with the overwhelming majority going to Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle, who’ve all been selling their brands of bottled water at significant discounts in recent years.

In an article in the recent issue of Fast Company, author Charles Fishman (Big Thirst) states that  sales of bottled water are actually growing twice as fast as the nation’s economy. But, bottled water sales had actually dropped in 2008 and 2009 due to the recession (the first time they dropped in more than 30 years), and they have seemed to  return with quite a bit of momentum, even despite the growing number of colleges and universities banning the sale of bottled water from campuses across the nation including the University of Vermont, Washington University, DePauw University and Harvard’s School of Public Health. Some campuses have installed tap water refill stations for students and are urging the move away from bottled water for environmental and financial reasons. A bottle of water can sell for as much as $5.

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Image: Kevin Krejci