The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Drink tap water, save a life

The huge amount of money Americans invest in bottled water could be much better spent

It’s finally starting to get warm outside and I couldn’t be more excited.

There’s nothing like a little heat and sunshine to make life’s worries melt away. I’m the kind of girl that shivers at a glance of an ice cube and proudly wears a Snuggie whenever appropriate. The negative aspects of things heating up? One, I burn easily. Honestly, I get rosy just by being in the vicinity of a halogen lamp or a 4-year-old’s drawing of the sun. It’s a problem. And two, I get really thirsty.

Needless to say, I’m consistently packing sunscreen and water. But the other day I forgot my thermos and my student ID card when making my class rounds. Without the power of Flex, I was forced to use one of the scarce water fountains on campus. Once the memories of playing Red Rover on the elementary school blacktop circa 1996 faded, I realized what a gift the water fountain truly is.

In America and most other developed nations, water is readily available and arguably free. Walk into any bathroom and there is a sink with a free flow of water. Ask a waiter for water at a restaurant and, generally speaking, the tab doesn’t reflect a purchase. This water is a luxury. It is estimated that every eight seconds a child dies somewhere in the world because she doesn’t have access to clean water. Depending on your speed-reading abilities, 10 children have died since you’ve started this article. Ten.

Americans brush their teeth with tap water, clean their bodies with tap, wash their vegetables and cook with tap water, but refuse to drink from the tap.

Somewhere along culture’s “brilliant” evolution, we have constructed the myth that bottled water is healthier than tap water. But is there a basis for such a belief?

Think about it: Water from the tap is government-regulated and routinely monitored while bottled water is strictly for retail purposes. When executives cut costs, the quality of our water decreases. In a study of 103 water bottle companies by the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than 25 percent were found to be tap water packed in either plastic or glass, in various shapes and sizes, with some form of a logo depicting an image of nature to distract the consumer’s doubts. Another 25 percent was found to fail basic bacteria tests.

When we buy a bottle of water, we spend 90 percent of the cost on the label, cap and casing and not on purification efforts.

According to a press release by IBISWorld, The United States’ revenue for bottled water brands in 2007 hit nearly $6 billion, with the market expanding at an annual rate of seven percent. The global revenue reached $10 billion in 2005. So why is all this money being spent on a commodity that comes free for many people? The answer, most bluntly, is a manufactured demand. Companies instill fear and doubt about the quality of tap water and people start to think they need to spend money on something they don’t actually need.

Exploitation of the consumer all over again. 

But not only do we still engage in this mass consumption of a product we don’t need, we flaunt our use of it. Designer water is a huge indicator of wealth and class; think Evian, Voss and, my personal favorite, Kabala water. Our consumption begs the question: Sustenance or status? 

Since reading this article, at least 15 children have died from a lack of water. Stop the statistic and instead of buying a case of water, utilize the tap and donate those same ten dollars to provide one person with clean water for ten years at thewaterproject.org.

Logan Masters is a junior sociology major. She can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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