Sales of bottled water in the United Sates reached an historical high of 9.1 billion gallons (34.4 billion liters) in 2011. Per capita consumption also reached a new peak of 29.2 gallons (110.4 liters).
Translated to the handy half-liter size Americans find so appealing, that comes to 222 bottles of water for each person in the country — four bottles of water for every man, woman and child, every week.
What truly amazes me with respect to these statistics is that clean, drinkable tap water in the US is near universal, so, in terms of health, every single bit of that bottled water and the associated plastic bottles is essentially unnecessary.
Other questions arise when considering these figures. How many plastic bottles are consumed in shipping this water? How much energy and oil is used in the production of these bottles? How many of these bottles are recycled? What volume and weight of trash is generated by these bottles? Why as a nation have we become so addicted to bottled water?
What is really quite distressing is that even after various high profile campaigns aimed at reducing plastic bottle consumption, our nation still seems to be enamored with modern day throw away culture and convenience. A sad indictment.