Published on October 15th, 2010 | by Jeannie Moulton


The Manufactured Demand for Bottled Water [VIDEO]

The principle of manufactured demand:

If you don’t have a market to sell to, then create one. Use fear and irrationality if necessary.

This is one of the first things I learned in my first (and only) business class…and apparently those at Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Nestle all took the same class because they came up with the greatest manufactured demand scam of all time: bottled water.

The people over at The Story of Stuff put together a great video on the story of bottled water, covering manufactured demand, its toll on the environment and plenty of other interesting facts:

Why do people drink bottled water?  Bottled water makes about as much sense as shipping in ice from Antarctica. Sure it is really convenient (and at sometimes even permissible) if you are out and about, but why do people drink it at home?  This is something I will never understand.  Bottled water costs 2000 times more than tap water!

“It tastes better.”

No, that’s your imagination and a bit of corporate trickery.

  1. It’s probably ice cold.  Even liquor tastes like pure water ice cold.
  2. You probably just paid $2 for it, which automatically makes you want it to taste amazing.
  3. The bottle has pretty pictures on it – leading you to believe the water is purer than tap water.


  1. Try refrigerating your tap water.
  2. If that doesn’t help with taste, use a Brita pitcher.
  3. If that doesn’t help, put your filtered tap water into pretty reusable bottles and stick them in the fridge.
  4. If that doesn’t help, put $2 in the jar next to the fridge before you can take a bottle out.
  5. If that doesn’t help, seek therapy.  Your brainwashing is deep :)

Environmental factors

All joking aside, bottled water’s effect on the environment is even worse than its effect on your economics.  For every bottle of water consumed,  approximately 7 times the amount of water in the bottle was used during manufacturing and shipping.  Also, the amount of oil used just to make the plastic water bottles would power 1 million cars for that year.

An overwhelming majority of these bottles are not recycled.  The ones that do get recycled often end up getting shipped across the world where they will be ‘downcycled’ – turned into lower quality packaging that will be thrown away.  Ideally, they would be re-made into water bottles again, but this is not the case.

The human factor

The worst part about this is that our waste now becomes another person’s problem (most likely a person in a developing country).  People in developing countries already have enough problems with access to clean drinking water, and the plastic we ship to them is now leaching into their water supplies.

Our obsession with ‘pristine’ water is costing other people their right to safe drinking water.  Let’s be real, we water our lawns with better quality water than most people in the world have access to…how is that fair?

Next time you reach for the bottle, think about the manufactured demand, think about the resources that went into that bottle, think about the people who will deal with your waste.

Friday, October 15, 2010 is Blog Action Day.  This year’s topic is water.  Share this post if you find it interesting, educational or amusing to help spread this year’s message.

Sources: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

I spent the last five years earning my PhD in Engineering. I enjoy all types of science and writing, so I am trying out a new career path in science publication and communication. Recently, I have moved to Oxford, England. As an environmentally-conscious person, Oxford is a great place to live...notably there is no car required. I love to talk about vegan cooking, plant-based diets and the benefits of such, so just ask if you are interested. I do ballet for fun and love kitties.

8 Responses to The Manufactured Demand for Bottled Water [VIDEO]

  1. ree says:

    The concept of bottling water and shipping it around the world is lunatic. Companies are buying up fresh water sources and water rights so that they can make millions off water that should belong to everyone. There is a limited amount of drinkable water in the world and it should not be a commodity for some international corporation to profit from.

  2. Pingback: Nestlé and the other reasons I support the boycott |

  3. Pingback: Living Plastic Free: Nine Ways to Reduce Plastic Use – Eat Drink Better

  4. Pingback: Bottled Water Recall – Eat Drink Better

  5. Pingback: New Android App Helps People Crowd-Source Free Drinking Water – Eat Drink Better

  6. Josh says:

    A ban isn’t the way to go. We need to encourage our legislators to pass modern municipal water safety regulations. Educate people so they can choose whether to drink bottle or tap water. I personally hate bottled water but I’ve also never lived somewhere with unsafe tap water. Water districts should also be required to report their water composition findings to residents so they can be well informed.


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