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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Finally, a backlash against bottled water

The NY Times has a summary of recent reports about America's bizarre obsession with bottled water. A sampling:
In the Sunday Styles section, Alex Williams wrote about how bottled water, once considered a healthy convenience, has become a symbol of waste.
The Week in Review section calculated that drinking eight glasses of water a day will cost you about 49 cents a year if you take it from a New York City tap and $1,400 a year if you buy bottled.
Aquafina turned out, like Coca-Cola's Dasani, to be just tap water in a bottle. In July, PepsiCo Inc. decided to start including the words "Public Water Source" on Aquafina labels.
And from a recent NY Times editorial:
Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans. Add in the substantial amount of fuel used in transporting water, which is extremely heavy, and the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing.

Tap water may now be the equal of bottled water, but that could change. The more the wealthy opt out of drinking tap water, the less political support there will be for investing in maintaining America's public water supply. That would be a serious loss. Access to cheap, clean water is basic to the nationís health.

Some local governments have begun to fight back. Earlier this summer, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom prohibited his city's departments and agencies from buying bottled water, noting that San Francisco water is "some of the most pristine on the planet." Salt Lake City has issued a similar decree, and New York City recently began an advertising campaign that touted its water as "clean," "zero sugar" and even "stain free."

The real change, though, will come when millions of ordinary consumers realize that they can save money, and save the planet, by turning in their water bottles and turning on the tap.
Ann Arbor, which has excellent water, also recently stopped buying or serving bottled water at city functions.

If you want the U.S. to be just another "don't drink the water" country, then just keep buying those bottles. A lot of time, effort and money went into bringing you the amazing convenience of potable tap water. Don't waste it--or your money.

Of course, our tap water is so convenient that we DO waste it in prodigious amounts, using potable water on lawns and golf courses, to wash cars, and even to flush toilets--as clueless a slap in the face of every third-world woman (and it is usually women), hauling jugs of barely-potable water up steep hillsides, as could be imagined. Ha-ha! You work so hard for your potable water, while we crap in ours.