BOTTLED INSANITY; It's the Greatest Consumer Con of All a Mass Addiction to Drinking 'Healthy' Water from Plastic That Is Destroying Our Planet

Daily Mail (London), October 24, 2018 | Go to article overview

BOTTLED INSANITY; It's the Greatest Consumer Con of All a Mass Addiction to Drinking 'Healthy' Water from Plastic That Is Destroying Our Planet


Byline: John Naish

MANKIND'S love affair with plastic bottles that are filled with water represents the pinnacle of human irrationality.

Despite rising awareness of the global environmental plastics disaster we have created, the trend for consuming vast amounts of an expensive product we don't need (what's wrong with tap water?) and then discarding the container is growing rapidly.

Last year in the UK we spent more than PS3.1billion buying nearly 4,000million litres of the stuff. That's 100 times more than we did in 1980.

It seems we can no longer venture out without clutching a bottle to protect ourselves against imminent dehydration. And experts predict we will be buying nearly 10 per cent more bottled water next year, and every year, for the foreseeable future.

Plague All of this is despite a welter of warnings about the impact on the planet - and now on our health.

As the Mail revealed yesterday, new research has confirmed for the first time that our bodies are becoming 'polluted' with plastic.

We are eating, drinking and inhaling microplastic particles, some of which are derived from plastic bottles. So how and where did the madness begin - and why does it persist? This modern plague had beguilingly innocent beginnings. The first documented example of a bottled nonalcoholic drink being sold was in Boston in the United States in the 1760s, when a company called Jackson's Spa started selling mineral water for 'therapeutic' uses. Other companies followed suit and a market was born.

But the glass bottles used shared a problem: the metal caps imparted a foul taste to the content. In 1917, American inventor Webster Byron Baker made the first plastic bottle cap, by heating Celluloid and crimping it around the mouth of a bottle.

It was the start of the plastics revolution that really took off in 1941 when British chemists at the Calico Printers' Association developed a form of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Within 25 years, scientists working for the American chemical giant Du Pont had found a way of making PET strong enough to contain carbonated drinks without bursting. It was cheap, lighter than glass and virtually unbreakable.

In 1978, Coca-Cola introduced the two-litre PET plastic bottle, which rapidly became the standard bottle material for fizzy drinks in all sizes. But there was a product that was far cheaper to make than sugary pop, and thus infinitely more profitable - fizzy water.

The French spotted the potential and perfected the trick of selling H20 at hugely marked-up prices - by marketing it as a 'natural' miracle. In 1977, a PS4million advertising campaign across America used Orson Welles to trumpet how 'Deep below the plains of southern France, in a mysterious process begun millions of years ago, Nature herself adds life to the icy waters of a single spring: Perrier'.

Suddenly, Perrier was the only drink to be seen sipping. Sales in the US increased from 2.5million bottles to more than 75million bottles by the end of the following year - followed by rising sales in Europe. Within five years these two agents of the environmental apocalypse - water and plastic bottles - were being combined, and the big brands jumped aboard. …

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