Ditch the Bottle

Bottled water is a marketing phenomenon.  In a society where much of the tap water supply is safe and completely regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), we struggle to rid ourselves of the belief that bottled water is healthier and filled with less chemicals.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The bottled water industry, regularly enjoying profits of $10 billion a year, is self-regulated and in many cases has been found to be brilliantly deceiving consumers.  Last month, the Environmental Working Group conducted a study on 10 brands of bottled water and found that 5 out of the 10 brands contained contaminated bacteria and one brand in particular – Sam’s Choice from corporate giant Wal-Mart – contained a level of toxicity that exceeded California state law. 

In fact, as much as 40% of bottled water begins as tap water, not in untouched springs, as the water companies would have you believe.  So aside from the simple fact that tap water may actually be better for you than bottled water (and can I just point out – SO MUCH CHEAPER), what happens to $10 billion worth of plastic bottles once we have quenched our uninformed thirsts? 

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that about 1.5 million tons of plastic are used globally in making water bottles every year, leaving a significant manufacturing footprint.  Most water bottles are made of the oil-derived polyethylene terephthalate known as PET – less toxic than most plastics but has been found to generate more than 100 times the toxic emissions in the form of nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide and benzene compared to glass manufacturing.

Sure Poland Spring began manufacturing a new eco-friendly bottle design, which they claim saves 30% of plastic and is 100% recyclable.  Ok, but bottled water has the convenience factor and when people are on-the-go, the ability to recycle diminishes greatly.  And what about the other 70% of plastic still cluttering up the Earth? 

Bottled water is not green nor is it safer than tap water.  The myth perpetrated by the bottled water company machine continues to influence consumers in grocery stories, gyms, restaurants and sporting events across the country.  If we’re going to have a greener society, we need to ditch the bottle and turn on the faucet.

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

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9 Responses

  1. Very good contention here… but I have to admit, this is one area where I have a tough time sacrificing. IMHO, bottled water just tastes better (though every brand tastes different) and I have tough time “swallowing” that my tap water is “safe”? For two reasons… Firstly when traveling for business, I naturally have to eat out for every meal. And even though I manage to maintain healthy food intake, I always end up with stomach issues. I’ve been able to map it back to tap water… whether it been straight water, or in coffee, or in fountain soda, I am 100% convinced its the water that sends my stomach reeling. And, it happens in cities from coast to coast, everytime I travel (and even on trips when I am NOT a rockstar). Unfortunately, I can’t give up coffee while traveling so its become something I “deal” with. And secondly, my husband worked in underground construction for a number of years, in the water piping industry and I’ve learned/heard TOO many horror stories and have zero confidence that my tap water is remotely safe. I do agree that bottled water is wasteful and gluttonous. But until they get the Brita-type systems up to my snobberific standards, I think the best compromise is delivery of the reusable jugs and to use a Kleen Kanteen to take water on the go.

    Stepping off my soapbox…

  2. I just bought both my kids Kleen Kanteens and they love them. Though Max struggles to open his. They do not have that metallic taste so it has helped us make the transition at home. They also think they are very cool.

  3. I’ve never been a big tap water fan either except for, oddly, in NYC. Believe or not that is some of the finest tap water I’ve ever had outside of what’s piped through the century old aquaducts in Rome.

    –JMH

  4. I actually think Wakefield tap water tastes perfectly normal and Sarah – to answer you concerns, there have been studies down in my states that prove that bottled water actually has the same amount, if not more, bacteria and added chemicals – they are just able to mask the taste with manufacturing.

    I agree, I have a Brita, my parents have a built-in filter system on their tap (which is brilliant really, removes the pain of refilling the Brita) and I’m a big fan of the Kleen Kanteens as well.

    -ALD

  5. Picked up the Narragansett Times today – “Tests Show Coliform Bacteria in Water Supply by PWS# RI615623” — this is the water tank that supplies the water to the south shore of South Kingstown/Wakefield. We don’t have to boil but chlorine is present after the disinfecting and they will post new results on Monday, November 10th. They cite it could be from sediment or a sign of contamination. The town is unsure. The bigger problem here is being caught in the middle. We’re trying to greenify our lives and have cut out water bottles, but I have a 2 year old and when I read articles like this I can’t help but want Poland Springs in my fridge, even if I have to pour it into a Kleen Kanteen and recycle the bottle. Taste is one thing; safety in the day and age of the Superbugs, is a whole other game.

    posted by: KDL

  6. I agree with you that there’s too much of a stigma associated with drinking tap water. However, with the facts you brought up about bottled water actually being more harmful it makes me think that this stigma is really all in our heads. We like to believe that we can be in ultimate control. There are always the exceptions of finding some water supplies contaminated once in a while but i think we tend to dwell on these exceptions that makes us act on fear.

    Like Sarah, giving up my stigmas about water was definitely one of the hardest things to do and i’ve started by taking small steps. I don’t buy bottled water anymore and always try to take a waterbottle with me. Although I have not made the leap to drinking tap water yet….instead my filtered water from my fridge keeps me hydrated so far. I like the Aladdin BPA free waterbottles cuz i know they’re the safe kind of plastic and the company also has some tumblers made of recycled material thats also recyclable (www.aladdin-pmi.com).

    Taking these steps toward being more environmentally friendly is not only a way to be more aware and conscious of our impact on the Earth but a way to be economical too!

    • your water fromn the fridge is still tap water that just goes through a filter in the fridge so be proud of your self your drinking tap water

  7. […] Posted on November 24, 2008 by castercomm We’ve already talked about how avoiding bottled water is one step we can take towards a greener life and I know a lot of people who use a Brita water […]

  8. […] time, it’s easy to grab bottled water as we’re heading out the door.  But we know that bottled water isn’t always better than tap.  And all those plastic bottles certainly aren’t that cool for the environment.  So now we […]

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