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Bottled Water Is, Still, Everywhere

By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | June 8, 2010

bottledwater2.jpgI’ve recently been fulfilling my patriotic duty of serving on a grand jury, and while the experience is far from fun, it has been incredibly educational.  This has been my first experience being surrounded by law– police officers and assistant district attorneys and defendants and witnesses, not to mention first degree, second degree, and third degree.  It’s been fascinating!

I’ve also learned a thing or two about my fellow Brooklynites, seeing as how I’ve been cooped up in a fluorescently-lit room with 22 other jurors for the past week and a half, mostly folks I generally wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise. And let me tell you– this cross-section of Brooklyn drinks a LOT of bottled water.

If this cross-section is any indicator of what’s going on in the rest of the country, then I guess I’m just restating the obvious when I tell you that Americans drink a LOT of bottled water.

Many of my fellow jurors are buying new bottles of water every day from the vending machine in the lobby, instead of refilling the ones they already have or using refillable bottles. Not only is that an eco-no-no, it’s also really expensive! As Annie Leonard points out in The Story of Bottled Water:

“Bottled water costs about 2,000 times more than tap water,” says Annie Leonard, the film’s narrator and director. “Can you imagine paying 2,000 times the price of anything else? How about a $10,000 sandwich?

While bottled water always bugs me, it’s especially buggy now, what with that crazy lil’ oil leak in the ocean going on. And what’s the real cause of that oil leak? It’s fueled (hah!) by our dependance on petroleum products, of which plastic water bottles are a massive and, in most Westernized countries, completely unnecessary waste. If your tap water is healthy to drink, then there is generally no reason to buy bottled water, except for the occasional real-need situation.

As Karina wrote yesterday, it just doesn’t seem like most people are making the connection between cause and effect with this environmental calamity. Sure, faulty engineering and/or safety precautions could have prevented or minimized the oil leak– but the reason we’re drilling for black gold in the first place, at such great depths and in such extreme locations, is because we are utterly dependent on the stuff.

Since internal combustion engines aren’t going away, we can drive in ways which enhance gas milage and combine trips to conserve fuel and greening our driving. We can cut our reliance on disposable plastic shopping bags by bringing our own to stores. And we can severely limit the number of disposable/”recyclable” plastic water bottles by bringing our own refillables, and by searching out public water fountains and sink faucets wherever we go.

I know I’m kind of preaching to the choir with this post, but it was just really surprising to see how many folks are still actually falling for the bottled water scam.

I’m doing what I can to engage people in conversation about this issue, and wondering how you approach people about the subject of bottled water?

[Image by Moffet via Creative Commons]

Topics: General, Waste | 10 Comments »

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Comment by marleah
2010-06-08 07:58:08

This past week I was out of my house because our floors were getting re-finished (not the most enviro-friendly process itself) and staying elsewhere that didn’t have a filter on the tap. Water around here is pretty nasty (although probably healthy), so I cringed when I entered the bottled-water aisle at the store. BUT I was glad to find Prima Water (http://www.primabottle.com/home/) – their bottles are 100% made from plants, are locally recyclable, and are compostable at a commercial facility. Each bottle had a little fact on it, such as “If all beverage bottles were made from plants, not oil, we’d save the equivalent monthly electricity used by 16 million residents.” These facts were fun to share and were a good way to open people’s eyes, and at least we reduced our impact a bit, if only slightly.

Comment by PaperDollyGirl
2010-06-08 10:14:55

Well, it depends. It’s tough to approach people because we generally have no idea what their habits are. For example, someone in my family has been using the same disposable water bottle for over a year. But I can’t imagine this person with a typical refillable bottle.

I generally just take responsibility for myself and my very occasional bottled water purchases. Mostly I think it’s a good idea to lead by example – let other people see you refilling your water bottle, and they might start to think it’s not such a hassle.

I’ve been meaning to ask TC, any ideas for good reusable containers for iced coffee now that the season is upon us?

2010-06-08 12:21:09

this is definitely something that I have been struggling with, as I wrote about with the 11 year old and trying to get HIM to kick the bottled water habit – and there are lots of good solutions from our readers there!! I think they key is to find the thing that the other person cares about if you’re going to bring it up – some people care about hormone disruptors, some people care about saving money, and some people care about reducing trash. For Eleven, I need to get him to both address the waste of money AND the animals impacted by the plastic waste and the oil spill, because he definitely has a soft spot for the animals.

Comment by Julia
2010-06-08 21:08:14

Yes – you’re preaching to the choir…and PREACH ON!!! I wrote about this on my site yesterday – again – and couldn’t agree more! It’s a convenience and should be treated as such.

If you filled a disposable water bottle 1/4 full with oil, that’s how much oil it takes to produce it. Also, there are studies that say it takes 2 litres of water to produce 1 litre of water. That being said, it’s a wasteful indulgence that should be reserved for necessity, not convenience.

17 million barrels of oil to satisfy our country’s obsession with bottled water (not including delivery) is what the Pacific Institute says it took in 2006. That’s no drop in the bucket!

Comment by Myron
2010-06-09 19:17:32

First…you hit the nail on the head! The reason people drink bottled water is because they don’t trust tap water. But to be fair, it’s a convenience thing too.

Second…why are we not angry with the trash companies? They make billions of dollars to haul and properly dispose of ALL our trash. Why is it coming back to haunt us? Especially the water bottles!??

Third…why have we singled out “plastic water bottles”? Do you walk through your supermarkets with blinders on, only seeing water in plastic containers but go blind when walking up & down the soda pop section or the laundry section??

Lastly…if you want to fight the oil powers do it directly. Picking on someones use of a single product (like bottled water) will never cover the totality of our dependence on the stuff.


Comment by Julia
2010-06-10 06:38:55

Good points, Myron.

I really think it’s 75% convenience on the water bottles.

Personally, I single out water bottles because it’s such an easy thing to change. Honestly, when I purchase soda for my family – which is rarely – I buy it in plastic because I don’t like the BPA in the cans’ liners. It’s like a crap shoot, isn’t it?

As for the trash companies, I think it’s hard for them, unless we separate our trash, to know exactly what’s in there. That’s why recycling is important. But remember, even that isn’t the whole answer – it’s my understanding that plastic always have to be downcycled. So, we can’t make more water bottles from old ones – that’s why fleece is so cheap!

Comment by Camp fire ring
2010-06-09 21:28:59

Great video!!This is very interesting topic ..There should be law regarding about this plastic bottle are thrown anywhere. We should be more responsible about this were just making are own problem and at the end we hardly find solution..This is a very alarming issue around the globe..We should do something before its too late!


Comment by Kate Burden
2010-06-14 21:25:28

I’ve shown the film FLOW (For Love of Water) to some of my students…and afterward they are shocked and swear they will never buy bottles again…and a few days later, there they are with their bottles. Like nothing ever happened. I’ve seen this from not just the new generation, but from everyone. Everyone turns a blind eye and it is out of shear convenience, selfishness, and not really caring. It makes me angry, but what can we do? I try my best to do my part…and teach my kids the right thing.

We spend more money on bottled water than it would cost to get everyone in the world fresh water. It’s scary….that water is now treated like oil!

I really like your site!! Thank you!

Comment by Juli
2010-08-03 10:14:50

What do you think of celebrities who endorse bottled water? Do you think they should be criticized for it? I’m especially disappointed in Ellen Degeneres endorsing Glaceau’s VitaminWaterZero. She seems like a person who genuinely cares about people, animals, and the planet, yet her ads for bottled water demonstrate otherwise– and she is extremely influential. She’s selling a lot of bottled water.

I started a Facebook page: “Tell Ellen Degeneres To Dump Bottled Water Advertising!” http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=logo#!/group.php?gid=147797688570526&ref=mf

If enough people join, it should get some attention. I hope. Can you help me promote it?

2011-12-28 06:02:22

[...] this situation has happened recently I’ve talked to the restaurant managers, telling them the reasons people prefer tap water and the arguments against bottled water.  They listen politely and I can only hope I’ve helped them to think about this issue in a [...]


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