For Educators
Bottle This!

I (Heart) NYC Tap Water
Water pouring from tap into glass

"There's been a major public relations campaign launched to convince the people that bottled water is safer, and better, and purer than tap water; what our study found is: it ain't necessarily so."

So begins our story about America's second-most popular beverage: bottled water (#1 is still soda). Bottled water claims to be the healthy alternative — but is it really worth paying 1,000 times more than for tap? And how did tap water get such a bad rap?

In this story we look at the myths and realities of the bottled water industry. How much is hype, and how much not? Might tap water use the techniques of bottled water to rescue its embattled image?
Dasani poster
Besides, image is everything these days. Not even bottled water ads are about how healthy and pure it is... Now it's all about lifestyle. Just check out ads for Coca Cola's Dasani (with Pepsi's Aquafina not far behind).

So how about a lifestyle campaign for tap water...

Thought bubbles suggesting various campaign ideas
NYC Tap Water label
NYC Tap Water label designed by Nancy Drew
Download and print your own water labels
(PDF, 972 KB)
We decided to launch a test campaign in New York City. Because, despite what rumors tell you, New York has one of the most pristine and protected water sources in the country, if not the world. It's even finalized in international taste tests (why do you think the pizza tastes so good?). And yet New Yorkers, like the rest of the country, increasingly spurn their faucet for the bottle.

Armed with our new campaign and sticker labels, we hit the streets. Watch and listen to find out what happened.

Where Do You Stand?
We want to hear your thoughts on the issues. Is your tap water as good as bottled water? Is bottled water worth the price? Share your story with us, and see what others have to say.

Share Your Story, Read Others'

Next: Not Disposable Anymore Two drips of water. Click here to go to top of page.

Great Taste, Unbeatable Price Bottle of water with new label

Watch & Listen

What's so special about bottled water?
Why have Americans deserted the tap? Gregory Warner investigates the rise of the $7 billion bottled water industry, and a study that suggests bottled water doesn't exactly live up to its image.

Then he commissions Brooklyn artist Nancy Drew ("The Andy Warhol of the Water Bottle Label") to design labels for his campaign "I NYC Tap Water." He hits the streets to ask New Yorkers to refill their water bottles with tap water. Will it work? Or will fear of the faucet prevail? How far will people go for a free sticker? [9:23 minutes]

Water Across Borders
There are 350 different water bottle labels in France alone. How many water bottle labels are there in the world? "Fifty to a hundred thousand," says New York-based artist Nancy Drew. She studied hundreds of the labels from different countries, then chose her favorites as subjects for her paintings, entitled, "The Water Series." "After a while, it became like a multicultural study of graphic artists," she says. "All of them are portraying the same thing, water, but each culture has their own way of seeing it."

label Canada
United States
label Switzerland
label Ireland
label Greece
label United States
label Sweden
label Egypt

Girl drinking bottled water
Poll: What's Your Water Personality?
When you drink bottled water, what is your most frequent choice?
Aquafina or Dasani
San Pellegrino
Ty Nant