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The Bottled Water Controversy

It’s funny. If you talk green and excercise your conciousness near others, it will only be so long before people will throw it back in your face, and call you a hypocrite. For example, I’ve recently been given a whole lotta gruff about my bottled water consumption. Here’s what we know about buying Bottled Water:

  • It’s expensive – Many bottled waters exceed the cost of a gallon of gasoline! A fossil fuel that has been sucked up miles below our earth and shipped forever away so that our cars can move and our houses warmed. And we gripe about the price of oil but don’t think twice about a bottle of Fiji water that costs $3.99
  • It’s wasteful – Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch [ http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/bottled ], that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle beverages is of high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away.
  • It supports the privatization of water supplies – Water is being called the “Blue Gold” of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates, and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity’s most precious resource. In the documentary film Thirst, authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies.
  • It’s of equal quality to your tap – Now this is where I have my beef. Though it is true that most bottled water companies are highly unregulated when it comes to quality, it is just as true that not all tap is created equal.

I live in Williamsburg Brooklyn NYC. In my particular area of Williamsburg, old pipes are dirty, and every so often [very] grey water is often released into the tap. After a few dead plants and ingesting this delicious water, I set out to find a solution.

So I spent over $300 on a home reverse osmosis system to distill my faucet water, however, the pressure minimum for these units can’t be met because my apartment is located on the 5th floor of an old grubby building with poor plumbing. No worries, I’ll just call a local water company (e.g. Arrowhead or Poland Spring delivery) and they can drop off my clean water for me. Plus, their water is contained in bottles that are reused! Boy was I wrong. These delivery companies have a 3 stair flight limit. So if you’re on the 4th floor as I am, you’re outta luck. Believe me I argued with them and they insisted. So while all my friends and family are eager to point the finger at the wasteful hypocrite, the well is getting dry. So what’s a guy to do?

I am selective about where I waste and I believe there’s a time and a place to resort to unecological methods of consumption. I think my situation clearly qualifies for permission from the “greeney police” to drink bottled water. Believe me it’s no fun carrying 5-1 gallon bottles up five flights of stairs. And hey! I buy in gallon sizes and recycle each one I can. Give me a break!

The fact of that matter is 99% of bottled water drinkers don’t need to drink it. A close friend of mine was telling me about how his family stocks small 8oz bottles to the ceiling as their main source of water. Walk into the house, ask for tea, and she’ll open up a bottle, poor it into the kettle and chuck it into the trash/recycle. Meanwhile, perfectly potable tap is available as well as the water pressure for an R/O System. What a waste!

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