The Story of Bottled Water encourages filtering water at home

Close up of water bottle with beads of condensation

The Story of Bottled Water, a short film released by Anne Leonard on World Water Day, intends to put a dent in bottled water sales. Flickr photo.

The Story of Bottled water is a short film by Anne Leonard that she released Thursday, which was World Water Day. In The story of Bottled Water, Leonard shows how corporations have convinced Americans to spend extra cash on half a billion bottles of water every week though most people in this country can get it for free. “Purified” bottled water has become a $5 billion-a-year industry in the U.S. and ironically threatens public health and the environment.

World Water Day

In an article on, Anne Leonard said she chose World Water Day to release the Story of Bottled Water because World Water Day is:

“a good day to pause and consider the insanity of a global economy where 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water while other people spend billions on a bottled product that’s no cleaner, harms people and the environment and costs up to 2,000 times the price of tap water.”

In The Story of Bottled Water, Leonard compares spending money on bottled water to buying a shrink-wrapped sandwich made by unknown hands costing $10,000. She blames multi-billion dollar marketing campaigns commissioned by industrial giants like Coca Cola and Pepsi and Nestle to make Americans afraid to drink tap water.

Toxic chemicals in bottled water

The Story of Bottled Water points out that while people may think they are drinking purified water, it is often no safer than the water coming from the tap. It could also be less safe. Toxic chemicals from the plastic in the bottle can leach into the water inside. A report on states that Water bottles are made from various plastics, including Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that leaches into the water in the bottles to some degree. Bisphenal-A, it turns out, is a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen and is linked to early onset puberty, declining sperm counts, obesity and breast and prostate cancer. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was filed in Los Angeles against five leading manufacturers of baby bottles containing Bisphenal-A.

Filter water at home

Leonard says that bottled water costs up to 2,000 times more than tap water, yet up to 40 percent of bottled water is simply filtered tap water. Consumers can filter water at home with products costing anywhere from $15 to $120. The Story of Bottled Water lists many other facts about bottled water that Leonard calls “inconvenient truths:

  • Bottled water is subject to fewer health regulations than tap water.
  • Municipalities often need money loans to cover more than the $70 million it costs to landfill water bottles alone each year, according to Corporate Accountability International.
  • Making the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. takes enough oil and energy to fuel a million cars, not including the fuel required to transport the bottles from the factory.

Use metal water bottles

The Story of Bottled Water does see a bright side it its argument, however. Leonard says that fewer people spend money now on bottled water — sales fell slightly in 2009 for the first time ever. More consumers choose to filter water at home,  pass on bottled water at the store and carry reusable metal water bottles. Steel or aluminum water bottles cost anywhere from $5.95 to $19.95. Sure beats a $10,000 sandwich.