# Bottled water: Answering a Math Question

## A reader of “Message in a Bottle,” my story about bottled water from the new issue of Fast Company, asked a question about the sales and pricing numbers in the story. He didn’t think they added up — if we buy 50 billion bottles of water a year in the U.S., and spend \$15 billion on that water, well, that comes to 30 cents a bottle for water. But you never see a bottle of water for 30 cents.

A reader of “Message in a Bottle,” my story about bottled water from the new issue of Fast Company, asked a question about the sales and pricing numbers in the story. He didn’t think they added up — if we buy 50 billion bottles of water a year in the U.S., and spend \$15 billion on that water, well, that comes to 30 cents a bottle for water. But you never see a bottle of water for 30 cents.

I emailed him an answer, but for other readers curious about the math that sometimes goes into a story, I’m posting my explanation below. I’m happy to try to answer other questions people have about the story, either emailed to me or posted at the end of the story.

And for those who missed it, NPR’s “All Things Considered” had an interview about the story on Thursday’s show. Robert Siegel asked good questions.

Here’s the explanation of the bottled water sales and cost numbers: