White Collar Water: Bottling Industry Actually White Collar Crime?

The water bottle industry made $11.8 billion in 2012, which equated to nearly 2,000 times the cost of tap water. The cause may be due in part to the national decrease in safe drinking water: nearly 25% of all Americans drink water from systems that violate rules set by the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015.

With places like Flint, Michigan getting nationwide coverage due to their chemical sludge leakage, Americans have become more cautious than ever about consuming water from their taps, and many have been turning to bottled water for help. So, is it really so bad for consumers to be searching for a solution outside of their own faucets? Forbes seems to believe so, since they’ve labeled water “the next white collar crime wave.”

White collar crime denotes nonviolent crimes that are financially motivated, and they are usually committed by government and business professionals. The idea that these individuals may exploit consumers by offering falsely advertised water gimmicks at high prices falls smack under this category. Nestle recently dealt with a lawsuit over their Poland Springs brand, which allegedly is not using the natural “spring water” that it heavily advertises, and that’s one of the milder forms of manipulative marketing.

Raw water, which markets itself as unfiltered, untreated spring water, is actually incredibly dangerous if that is the case: the bacteria present in naturally occurring water, regardless of where it’s found, can cause severe illnesses and diseases. Yet people are paying upwards of $60 per gallon for “probiotic rich” liquid.

Hydrogen water seems to be the current up-and-comer. The Japanese have been using hydrogen-infused water to treat patients recovering from infections, as well as simply beauty treatments, due to the element’s potential as an antioxidant. Although no thorough tests have been performed, hydrogen water has already hit the U.S. market for $3 a bottle. Time will tell if its benefits are proven one way or the other.

With one in eight people unable to access clean drinking water in the world, this white collar crime wave seems to be a problem that only developed countries face. The irony lies in the fact that its us, as consumers, that need to make the effort to learn more about what we’re putting into our bodies rather than just shelling out an exorbitant fee because of the persuasive packaging — clean water is essential, but it may be time to let all of this “extra” stuff go and get back to basics.

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