It's a $50-billion industry worldwide, and many say it is having a needlessly negative impact on the environment.

Today, almost 20 per cent of Canadians rely on bottled water, according to one organization trying to break them of the habit.

"The bottles are made of crude oil, and then the transportation of the bottles involves the production of more crude oil and green house gases. This is pretty significant when you think some bottled water travels across the province, and across the country," said Andrea Harden, the Polaris Institute's bottled water campaigner.

Then, after one use, the bottles go to either landfills or are recycled, which is paid for by municipal tax payers.

Many consumers believe bottled water to be better than tap water. Harden says, don't be so sure.

"The City of Ottawa tests its water quality 125,000 times a year. Based on comments by a Canadian Food and Drug Agency, bottling plants are government inspected on average every three years," she said.

City needs to step up

Polaris has asked the City of Ottawa to join other cities in stopping the flow of bottled water at their own events and meetings.

The alternative is non-plastic, re-usable containers, preferably metal, filled with tap water.

"It's a classic case of an environmental issues that has so many implications. So when the city considers it, we will bring it to our environmental working group which includes the medical officer of health because there are certainly health issues," said Nancy Schepers, Ottawa Deputy City Manager.

However, the city has not set a date to start moving on that issue.

The new 'SUV'

But more people are catching on that bottled water is wasteful and not really necessary.

"In many ways, bottled water is becoming the SUV of the environmental movement. People are catching onto it and beginning to say, 'look we have to put an end to this and stop this,'" said Tony Clarke, author of Inside the Bottle.

When his book was released several years ago, no one was really paying attention.

But now, bottled water sales have stalled and may be in decline because of the bigger environmental movement.

"People started to make the connection between what they could do in a positive way and plastic bottles became a very real concern," said Clarke.

But there is still a long way to go.

With a report from CTV's Kimothy Walker