About the Author

Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira
Environmental Blogger/Writer and PR (Salvador, Brazil)

Diêgo Lôbo, 21, environmental writer and blogger; frustrated oil and gas technical; and Public Relations. Currently, I am working in a non-profit organization with communication, social medias and fundraising. Since I was chosen in a bloggers competition to cover an environmental conference in Germany, I became passionate in blogging in English.I love travelling, learning about new cultures and discussing. Creator and Chief-editor of E esse tal Meio Ambiente? (www.essetalmeioambiente.com) Follow me on twitter: @diegolobo For further infomation: diegolobog@gmail.com

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The Usual Question: Faucet or Bottled Water?

Published 12th February 2011 - 18 comments - 11921 views -

Driking water directly from the faucet in south africa: potable as it must be

Just like Lara Smallman and Sylwia Presley, I took some time to reflect on the water market - the bottled water division to be precise. It is not my intention to go over all that was discussed on the articles before, but I do want to tell you my story and give more information I have found around this subject.

You all know Brazil is blessed in relation to water resources and natural resources as well. But its wealth has never meant the equally distribution throughout the country. In fact, we have both droughts and floods issues and it is also known that the water pollution has reached high levels.

I have only drunk water directly from the faucet a couple of times - in places where I did not have a choice. In fact, it was necessary to go to another continent to drink water from the faucet. It was in South Africa, which different than many might think, is a country that has been improving its technologies and sanitarian system along with the water quality - of course, those improvements are still restricted to the big urban centres. But the thing is: in my city, Salvador, the biggest after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, people are not used to drink from the faucet, preferring to buy bottled water, which seems to be more potable.

As we are aware, the bottled water is, in essence, unsustainable. Its impact on the planet is much more negative than the treated water of our (not mine) faucets. According to the study Energy Implications of Bottled Water only in the USA, in 2007, were consumed 33 billion of liters (110 per capita) of bottled water. When we count the impact of production, distribution, storage we are talking about something between 35 and 54 million of barrels of oil. The report concludes that the energetic footprint of the bottled water is two thousand more than the treated water from the faucet.

The industry of bottled water grows at high rates. Only in 2007 were consumed 206 billion of bottled water, in an invoice for over US$ 100 billion, says the report.

So what to do? Which to choose?



Where there is water treatment, this (water from the faucet) is certainly the best choice, for many reasons: its quality is strictly accompanied by the environmental institutions; it is much cheaper and it generates less impact on the planet (they also say it can prevent cavities and fight tooth decay). On the other hand, Annie Leonard, of the Story of the Bottled Water, says that where there is no good-quality water the “solution” is to pressure the public institutions for more investments in treatment and cleaning the water as well to guarantee the equal distribution of this valuable resource to all population without distinction.

Anyhow, let us know from where you drink your water.

Category: Economics | Tags:


  • Gorky Tyagi on 13th February 2011:

    Interesting topic Diego. I can understand your point. The water of Delhi is also not drinkable.

    But I must say consuming bottled water in a developed country is the stupidest thing one can do. When you have good quality tap water available at unbelievably cheaper rates, how can one drink bottled water? That’s insane.

    Guys get a stainless steel bottle for the portability issue please. Drink from public taps if you can. In the case of an emergency its still okay. But most people are regulars. We all know the impact plastic has on the earth. There are other issues involved too as we all know. Consumption in developing countries is still justified. But the developed countries make majority of sales.

    Bottled water, as an industry, should be allowed to flourish only in urban developing cities and no where else. And that too if the drinking water is seriously bad. In rural areas, people can not pay, so it is out of question. Regulatory measures are clearly out of place for obvious reasons.

  • Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira on 13th February 2011:

    Pabitra and Gorky, I totally agree with you. As Bruno said above, in places like Salvador and other cities in brazil - as well as many cities in developing countries, it is much easier buying a cheap bottle of water and drink. You must consider the weather, we drink too much water everyday. But as you said, in developed countries, where you can easy find drinkable water you shouldn’t buy those bottles. It just doesn’t make sense, right? You would be only feeding the big water business…

    Gorky, this could be a good idea, not allowing the water business to work in places where there’s not reason to… like developed countries… however, I am not sure what consequenes it would have. This is a nice topic to discuss…

  • Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira on 13th February 2011:

    @Carlos, I agree with you, it depends on place to place… but in some point we need more than just choose which alternative is more sustainable, we need to fight for a serious sustainable alternative (economic, social and environmental speaking.
    Thank you for your comment.

  • Gorky Tyagi on 13th February 2011:

    Of course Diego, bottled water should not be allowed in developed countries with safe drinking water. Water is not a luxury, it can never be. Its consequences will be more water for all, improvements in public water system and a more eco-friendly world, to name a few.

    But do you think governments will ever do this? A very meager chance. In fact it is the common people who can completely shut this whole industry in one single day. But we need some sensitivity on people’s part. Awareness can counter the stupid marketing gimmicks that companies play.

  • Avgi Lilli on 14th February 2011:

    I can only say that if the water is not drinkable you don´t have a choice, isn´t it? Yes, production of bottled water is expnsive, it´s a loss of huge amounts of natural resources and energy and dangerous if the plastic is overheated, but if the water is not drinkable, then what?
    We are lucky, because we have the priviledge to choose. I wouldn´t choose bottled water, but the water is not drinkable in the area I live in. And I wouldn´t risk it.

  • Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira on 14th February 2011:

    @Gorky, I agree with you: it’s not gonna happen. But I am not that sure about the good consequences, I mean, they stop selling bottled water and we now can drink only from the faucet. But, as all that matter is money, they will start to charge much more for the usual water we drink, clean and bath, you see my point? The water business will not have the bottled water, but they will still have their business.

    @Avgi, totally right. I do buy bottled water because I do not trust in the so-called treated water we have here. It is not that drinkable… I do not want to risk.

  • Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira on 16th February 2011:

    Rahul and Alonso, you are both right, thank you very much for your comments.

    Roberto, I believe it is almost the same over here. Thanks for the website.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 19th February 2011:


    This is a very perceptive post. I drink only bottled water. But yes, clean water should be made available for everyone.

  • Diêgo Lôbo Goiabeira on 15th March 2011:

    You are right, we have discussed here about the use of filters. I am not sure about efficiency, but it’s clearly an option where the water from faucet, like here, is not so reliable.
    Thanks for your comment.

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