Bottled water: Friend or foe?

So I already gave you my top-ten list of easy and practical enviro tips that can save the earth and your money. (And my rant against plastic bags.) Here’s No. 11: Stop using bottled water for all your water-drinking needs. For one, most commercially sold bottled water comes from the same-old source you and I get it from every day — municipal water. For another, those pesky little plastic bottles have a tendency to not get recycled and account for a sizable chunk of unnecessary landfill space. (A 2003 report by the State of California estimated at least 1 billion bottles are ending up in the trash in that state each year!) And on top of that, over time the thin plastic used for bottled water can leach phthlates, a substance shown to be toxic to humans and animals.

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s a nice bit from Erin over at the Nevada Conservation League’s blog:

Aquafina recently revealed that their water source was none other than the same ‘ol tap water that you and I get when we turn on the faucet. Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring PepsiCo and other sellers of bottled water to stop employing “misleading market practices.” The other companies they are targeting include Dasani (Coca-Cola Co.) and Nestle Pure Life (Nestle Waters North America Co.), as they too use municipal water as part of their water resources.

Sure, it’s listed as “purified” water, but what’s so impure about tap water? It adheres to strict government regulations and is perfectly safe and pure…whatever “pure” means, anyway. I’ve blogged before about how trendy bottled water has become (it was an $11 billion industry in 2006), but more and more people are becoming aware of its inherent silliness and its negative environmental impacts. In fact, the city of San Francisco recently banned the purchase of bottled water by government entities, and New York’s “Get Your Fill” campaign promotes the consumption of tap water.

Now, I admit to using bottled water fairly regularly. Here in Las Vegas, our municipal water not only tastes bad but has some dubious history, including substances such as perchlorate leaching into Lake Mead (and contaminating the Colorado River all the way to California) thanks to certain industrial accidents at factories, such as the PEPCON explosion, and bad practices of yester-year by factories in the valley dating back to World War II (i.e. pre-EPA). But I have learned a lot about bottled water over the past year and am now ready to leave it behind as much as possible. (I’m still going to get it if I’m dying of thirst on a hot desert day and there’s no water fountain in sight!)

Of course, as Erin at the NCL points out on her blog, the best thing to do is to carry a reusable bottle, such as a Nalgene bottle. (In fact, Nalgene has set up a site where you can pledge to give up bottled water and learn more about why it’s sort of the devil.) And if you absolutely have to get a bottle of water, then do the earth a favor and recycle it!

5 thoughts on “Bottled water: Friend or foe?

  1. Isn’t it interesting. For years, humanity lived without bottled water and now…giving it up is considered a bit of a ‘hassel.’ I have already let go of bottled water, but if I absolutely have to buy one (the hot desert thing) I make sure that I reuse it in some way, shape or form.

  2. I really feel like we were all duped on this one. It’s one of those things where, in the future, we will all look back and go, What were we thinking?

  3. Who would have ever thought we would pay for water. Be careful, air will be next!

    The answer is certainly to bottle it yourself. A Brita filter and Nalgene bottle will provide excellent quality water without the waste. All that is required is a little planning to have that water available when you need it. Little changes like that can have a huge environmental impact. It starts with each individual.

    I wrote a post just like this about plastic grocery bags.
    http://gregjerome.wordpress.com/2007/08/11/reusable-grocery-bags/

  4. Pingback: Stop drinking bottled water « Utica Progressive

  5. Pingback: Four (or Five!) Reasons Why » .…You Shouldn’t Drink Bottled Water

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