Do you drink bottled water or tap water? Water from a cooler (which is a big giant bottle) or from a filter built into a refrigerator or sink? Or do you Britta?
(Yes, let me be the first to verb that noun …. )
Increasingly we see resistance to bottled water. The Britta ads (one hour in a meeting, forever in a landfill) … even if they are inaccurate, as most bottles are probably recycled … may have an effect. I have seen, heard of, and even experienced the admonishment of anti-bottle activists (though I quickly add: I almost never drink bottled water. But I do occasionally. But probably, the bottle you see me drinking out of contains water I just put in there to refill it.)
Anyhow, there is a sea change in the air.
The US Conference of Mayors in June passed a resolution calling for a phasing out of bottled water by municipalities and promotion of the importance of public water supplies.
While largely symbolic, the vote highlighted a growing movement opposing regular use of bottled water because of its plastic waste and energy costs to transport drinking supplies.
Janet Larsen, director of research at the Earth Policy Institute, cites a “backlash against bottled water as more people are realizing what they get out of the bottles is not any better than what they get out of the faucet.”
The Pacific Institute, a California think thank on sustainability issues, contends that producing bottles for US water consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil in 2006, not including the energy for transportation.
The group says bottling water for Americans produces more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and consumes three liters of water for each liter of bottled water produced.
I think this means that a total of 2. 5 million tons of carbon dioxide is produced by the entire water in a bottle thing. Aside from that, I think this means that 300 percent of the water you drink is ‘consumed.’ These statistics are very annoying.
The first one is very annoying because .. what does 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide mean? How much carbon (or carbon dioxide) is that compared to the total we ‘produce’ every year?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that the transport of water in the most efficient way possible is what we want. Mostly clean drinkable water with the least energy. But I want to know what the truth is, not what some agency that for all I know is being paid off by Britta says. Furthermore, I doubt that the answer is the same for every context in every part of the US or the world.
It is also worth noting that this number … 2.5 million tons … is not being presented relative to the total amount of carbon or CO2, but also, this number is not being presented in relation to the ‘otherwise’ number. The water does not come pouring out of our taps without expendatire of energy. How much water does it take to ‘produce’ the water coming out of the tap? Maybe more than 3:1! How much carbon or CO2 is release or produced or whatever you want to call it by city water systems based on wells using water towers? And so on.
What is the difference between bottled and tap water in terms of contamination and safety? That depends. By and large both are safe, but certain individual sources of tap water should be avoided or filtered. At the same time, some bottled water is just bottled up tap water (in which I must presume they spill two liters for every liter they get into the bottle, if the above statistics are to be believed).
The bottled water industry, when speaking directly about this issue, likes to use fear to sell their product.
Kevin Keane of the American Beverage Association said the mayors’ resolution was “just cynical politics. It’s like being against rope until you need a lifeline.”
Keane says the bottled water industry is needed for communities hit by floods or other natural disasters and compromised municipal water systems.
Bottled water “is convenient and a good tasting beverage, especially in this day when you have fewer water fountains and even when you have them, people are skeptical about using them.”
Fuck anybody who uses fear to sell their product these days.
Oh, and then there is the evil corporation angle:
Beyond questions of safety and environment, some activists say the bottled water industry is seizing a public resource.
In the northeast state of Maine, a battle is brewing over access to a large aquifer by Poland Spring, a large US bottler owned by Swiss-based Nestle.
“Nestle’s water grab is ruining streams, ponds, wells and aquifers,” said Judy Grant of the activist group Corporate Accountability.
“Nestle’s practices are raising serious questions about who should be allowed to control water, our most essential resource, and to what end.”
Nestles. Always into something. Aren’t we still boycotting them for killing all those babies in Africa and India?
2007 emissions from the largest coal burning power plant in the US: 27,200,200 tons*.
Oh, and if your water tastes kind of icky? It could be THIS STUFF in there…
Source of the above quotes.