Rethinking Your Drinking: The Story Behind Bottled Water

by Jonathan Merritt

[Ed. note: This article is part of our series of weekly reflections, called Deep Down Things, published on Wednesdays.]

Bottled of water.

Bottled water is all wet. (cc image courtesy Muffet via flickr)

Annie Leonard is at it again. The woman who brought us “The Story of Stuff” has released a new video, “The Story of Bottled Water.” The 8-minute video was released in honor of World Water Day tells of the bottled water industry’s slick environmental-themed campaigns and the mountains of needless plastic waste they produce. Watch the video here, in the box to the right.

I’m a recovering bottled water addict. I gave it up a couple of years ago when I heard that Americans spend $15 billion annually on bottled water while 1.1 Billion people globally don’t have access to clean drinking water. When one considers the cost differential and all of the studies showing that bottled water proves to be no cleaner, healthier, or tastier than tap water, there is really no reason to consume bottled water. Don’t be fooled by the pastoral scenes on the bottled water labels. These companies are fooling you into paying more for a product that’s already available to you for nearly nothing. I’m not legalistic and I haven’t become the bottled water police, but I opt for tap water these days and often carry a reusable bottle or thermos.

In my own spiritual walk, I’ve been trying to live more simply. Drive less, spend less, worry less, work less, waste less. Simplicity creates more time for friends, family, reading, reflecting, relaxing, and praying. As David Chronic writes, “Attaching to Jesus means detaching from the world and to simplicity of lifestyle. This is not simplicity for the sake of simplicity, but simplicity for the sake of relationship–relationship with God and relationship with each other.”

It doesn’t always work for me. Things still pile up and I still occasionally want to pull my hair out. I often catch myself neglecting my family and friends. Simplicity is hard, and I’ve got a long way to go. Reconsidering what we drink, however, is one easy way to spend less and create less trash. There is no way to calculate all the money or waste I’ve saved, but it’s significant. Take a look at the video above and begin rethinking your own drinking habits. Perhaps the first step toward a simpler life is as easy as H-2-O.

Do you regularly drink bottled water? How much do you consume / spend? How important to you is saving money and reducing personal waste? Is this something you’d miss if you gave it up?


Jonathan Merritt is a faith and culture writer who has published over 150 articles in outlets such as USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post’s “On Faith,” BeliefNet, Christianity Today, and CNN.com. He is author of Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet (read an excerpt here). He holds a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC) and a Master of Theology from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (Atlanta, GA). Jonathan resides outside of Atlanta, GA where he actively serves and teaches at Cross Pointe Church.

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