Back in May I wrote my first post about the unsustainability of bottled water, and it has been gratifying to see the growing attention being focused on this issue over the last few months. Today the Bottled Water Story continues, with this very informative article from Earth Policy about efforts around the world to move citizens and city governments away from bottled water and back to the tap. Recommended reading! Here’s a taste:
Tap water promotional campaigns would have seemed quaint a few decades ago, when water in bottles was a rarity. Now such endeavors are needed to counteract the pervasive marketing that has caused consumers to lose faith in the faucet. In fact, more than a quarter of bottled water is just processed tap water, including top-selling Aquafina and Coca-Colaâ€™s Dasani.
Issues at stake here range from the huge trash problem created by plastic water bottles (recycling rates tend to be very low, especially in states — including NY — where there is no bottle deposit on non-carbonated beverages), to the amount of petroleum used in the creation of those bottles and transporting them around the globe, to the threat to funding of municipal water systems — which in some cases has resulted in their privatization.
I would venture to say that there is also a social justice issue involved when the public has been led to believe that a product will be healthier for themselves and their families at such an astronomical cost difference compared to an equal or better product they can already access for free. Here in NYC we are blessed with excellent tap water, and even using a filter system only adds a few dollars a year to the cost. It has been a great step to see bottled water promoted in schools instead of sodas, but an even better step would be for every child to have their own reusable water bottle. Sounds crazy? To see how one NYC teacher (and parent) did it, check out Brooklyn’s own Urban Botany blog. Who says one person can’t make a difference?
The time has come to take back the tap. As individuals and as a society, we can find better uses for the many dollars we would save by doing so:
With more than 1 billion people around the globe still lacking access to a safe and reliable source of water, the $100 billion the world spends on bottled water every year could certainly be put to better use creating and maintaining safe public water infrastructure everywhere.
So… maybe an excellent holiday gift would be a reusable water bottle, eh?