Here’s Another Reason To Be Worried About Bottled Water

The bottled water industry is in the midst of a banner year.

Bottled water sales are set to outstrip soda sales in the U.S. for the first time since the Beverage Marketing Corporation began tracking the industry in the 1970s, according data the firm released earlier this month.

On one hand, this could be viewed as a public health victory, especially since industry leaders say rising health concerns linked with the consumption of sugary, calorie-laden sodas are largely driving the trend.

But there is also a more potentially disturbing explanation for bottled water’s surge in popularity, these same leaders say: Consumers are fearful of what’s coming out of their taps, thanks to public health crises like the ongoing situation in Flint, Michigan, and America’s immense and underfunded water infrastructure challenges more broadly.

Critics of the bottled water industry point out that these increased sales represent the privatization of something that has generally been recognized as a public good. There is an incredible amount of waste generated along the way, and plenty of thorny questions about the ethics of water sourcing come up.

One of those critics is Gay Hawkins, a professor at Western Sydney University and the co-author of the 2015 book Plastic Water: The Social And Material Life of Bottled Water.

There is “no good news” in letting beverage companies ― like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which each benefit from the rise in sales through their own water brands — take control of America’s drinking water, Hawkins argues.

The Huffington Post recently spoke with the professor about what can be done.

Read the interview at HuffingtonPost.com