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Bottled Water Sales Drop Off

By Rebecca Smithers

Sales of bottled water are falling as more people turn to the tap at home and when eating out.

The consumer backlash against expensive, bottled water is gathering momentum, according to two related studies this week which reveal that more of us are content with that plain old, dirt cheap stuff that comes straight out of a tap.

First of all, the UK's restaurant-goers overwhelmingly prefer to choose tap water over bottled, according to a brand new survey issued to tie in with UN World Water Day 2009, which fell on 22 March.

The research, commissioned by international charity, WaterAid reveals that tap water is the preferred choice for 63% of people when they dine out. Over 23.5 million people prefer to order tap water with their meals rather than bottled. Yet despite this, one in four people surveyed said they have felt pressured to order bottled water when dining out.

More and more UK restaurants are offering tap water to diners as standard, which is already the norm in the US. But you still often have to ask for it - with the associated embarrassment that can cause. WaterAid's drinking water survey also shows that women are more likely to choose tap water, while men are more inclined to have bottled water with their meal. And where people live also seems to make a difference - people in Greater London and Scotland are the most likely to choose bottled water, whereas those dining out in the South East and East Anglia are happy with a good old jug of tap.

The popularity of bottled water soared in the 1990s and the early 2000s, but is now s-o-o-o yesterday, according to figures from market research company TNS. Last year the on-going year-on-year increase in sales was halted and sales actually fell by 9%. The Guardian has highlighted what an expensive and unnecessary adornment bottled water is, even singling out Bling H2O - in frosted glass bottles adorned with Swarowski crystals and a mere snip at $55 a bottle - as the ultimate eco-unfriendly product. Tap water costs around 0.1p a litre at home. Surely it's a no-brainer?

Which do you drink - bottled or tap? Which restaurants would you single out for their refreshing attitude to offering tap water, and which are still swimming against the consumer current?

This article originally appeared in The Guardian's Word of Mouth Blog.

Photo credit: flickr/Klearchos Kapoutsis, Creative Commons License.

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Learn more about bottled water and why tap is the better choice at:

Posted by: Rachael on 25 Mar 09

It's interesting to hear that bottle sales have actually dropped. I couldn't believe when I read how much oil was needed to produce these bottles and then oil of course to transport them. Glad to hear that people are acting on this info to save the environment.
Thanks for posting!

Posted by: Karen on 25 Mar 09

There is a deadly serious reason to buy bottled water (and we buy it in returnable Lexan 5 gallon jugs): by law, all communities population 10,000 and over must put an industrial waste in their/our municipal water supply: fluoride compounds. The American Dental Association has warned us to not give tap water to our babies --!-- and the stuff can't be filtered out. Do something about THAT Ms. Smithers, and I'll consider drinking tap water again --even though ours (Coos Bay, Oregon) also has half the maximum allowable amount of radium isotopes in it.

Posted by: Craig on 28 Mar 09

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