Bottled water isn't just water; it's water plus plastic, plus the fossil fuels required to transport cases and pallets of it from plants to retail locations.
This one is easier than I thought.
Don't buy bottled water. Certainly don't buy any in soft plastic bottles.
Okay, there's more to the water question than this, but if you do nothing else relative to your water consumption, eliminating water purchased in bottles from your life is a big step toward positive change.
Should you use water from a bottle? Of course! You need to have water with you many times and places where it's not available, but use your own bottle and bottle the water yourself from your own tap. Run it through a reusable filter to make it cleaner and better tasting than it might be coming directly from your tap.
In some parts of the world the tap water is as good or better in terms of purity and taste than the water typically sold in bottles. But your municipal water supply probably has chlorine, perhaps flouride, in it, maybe some heavy metals that you don't need. Maybe it's too hign in iron, or you don't like the taste. If that's the case, install a reverse osmosis filter at your kitchen sink, or use a gravity fed filter that you can pour from like a pitcher.
Pour that water into your own stainless steel bottle or BPA-free plastic bottle, and take it with you. And bring that bottle home and reuse it (hopefully for years).
Why? First your health. The plastic those disposable bottles are made from leach phthalates into the water they hold, you drink it, and so your walking around with foriegn chemicals in your body that act like estrogens. You don't want that.
Second, the health of the planet. Next to disposable diapers, discarded water bottles are some of the most prolific waste in our landfills. And the process of getting that water from the ground, into the bottles, onto the store shelves is hugely wasteful and energy intensive, and in some cases results in direct damage to the health and lives of people and wildlife who live in proximity to the bottling plant.
Choose your brand; they all show you a nice picture on the bottles: snowcapped mountain, lovely flower, some pristine scene of purity, all designed to make you think of nothing but how pure, clean, and fresh that water is, the very liquid you can't live without. What they don't want you to see is the gigantic, diesel-driven drill that bores the hole into the aquifer, or the maze of pipes, valves, tanks and pumps that sucks that water out of the ground and moves it to the bottling operation. They don't want you to know about the trout stream that dried up because the plant is sucking 500,000 gallons an hour out of the water table, faster than it can naturally replenish, and the local ecosystem suffers. They don't want you to know about the residents whose wells dried up and have to be re-drilled deeper for the same reason. They don't want you to know that the plastic in that bottle comes from China, is shipped half way around the world to the bottling plant, and is made from petroleum. They don't show you images of the ships and trucks spewing smog to cart the heavy bottles to the four corners of the globe to sit on store shelves waiting for your money.
They don't come right out and tell you how expensive and energy intensive it is to get that water to you in a convenient yet damaging plastic bottle, but they do tell you indirectly by charging you a dollar or so for a 16 ounce bottle of the stuff, something you should be paying mere pennies for.
So, third, your wallet. There are millions of those plastic bottles added to our landfills every year. And (fortuneately) millions more that make it into recycling systems. That makes millions and millions of dollars that wouldn't need to be spent if we could only remember to fill our reusable bottles before we left home.
Check out this movie trailer for "Tapped."
This page last updated on: 2010-06-14