In some p
laces, bottled water really is the safe option, particularly in the developing world. But bottled water is mostly consumed in industrialized countries where it is least needed. The USA and Europe are leading consumers of bottled water.
Today, bottled water is becoming increasingly popular in less developed nations, too, as rising incomes allow people to buy it. But this is happening in areas where the tap water has been improved, even if it was once known to be poor. For example, the world’s highest per-person bottled-water consumption is in Mexico, despite the country’s significant efforts to bring clean tap water to its citizens. The public still mistrusts water quality and therefore buys bottles of purified water from local vendors.
But as so often happens, there is a real problem: those with the greatest need for clean drinking water are both the least able to afford it and the least likely to buy it. For them, bottled water remains a hopelessly expensive luxury.