Saturday, October 6, 2007

Evil evil bottled water

This not-so-subtly titled post is to encourage you to click on the Carbon Conscious Consumer badge to the right (or, right here), and pledge to stop drinking bottled water (if you make the pledge, you get a 25% discount on a very nice reusable water bottle…here’s the one that travels with me).
I’ve been aware that plastic water bottles have a high energy cost, both to create the bottles and to transport them, but I never thought of it in moral terms until I read this very long article.
Here are some excerpts:

“We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 81/3 pounds a gallon. It’s so heavy you can’t fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water–you have to leave empty space.)

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water.”

For a specific example, look at Fiji water:

Transportation:

“The label on a bottle of Fiji Water says “from the islands of Fiji.” Journey to the source of that water, and you realize just how extraordinary that promise is. From New York, for instance, it is an 18-hour plane ride west and south (via Los Angeles) almost to Australia, and then a four-hour drive along Fiji’s two-lane King’s Highway."

Pollution:

"The Fiji Water plant is a state-of-the-art facility that runs 24 hours a day. That means it requires an uninterrupted supply of electricity–something the local utility structure cannot support. So the factory supplies its own electricity, with three big generators running on diesel fuel. The water may come from “one of the last pristine ecosystems on earth,” as some of the labels say, but out back of the bottling plant is a less pristine ecosystem veiled with a diesel haze.”

People:

“in Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water. Which means it is easier for the typical American in Beverly Hills or Baltimore to get a drink of safe, pure, refreshing Fiji water than it is for most people in Fiji.”

You decide:

“Once you understand the resources mustered to deliver the bottle of water, it’s reasonable to ask as you reach for the next bottle, not just “Does the value to me equal the 99 cents I’m about to spend?” but “Does the value equal the impact I’m about to leave behind?”

Simply asking the question takes the carelessness out of the transaction. And once you understand where the water comes from, and how it got here, it’s hard to look at that bottle in the same way again.”

11 comments:

Sherry said...

i have sometimes looked at the things we have here and wondered how many of us really would survive if we were suddenly forced to live the life of a citizen of
a third world country.

Karen said...

Sherry,
Have you read "The Poisonwood Bible?" by Barbara Kingsolver? It's about a missionary family that moves to a village in the Congo, and are "suddenly forced to live the life of a citizen of a third world country."
It's a great book; I got so immersed in it, that when I stopped reading and looked around me, it felt really strange to see all the concrete, buildings, and cars and "stuff."

FranIAm said...

Hi! Great blog!! And great post... I have been wanting to write about this for awhile, but you've done it so very well here.

I come here via BAC at Yikes.

BTW - I love The Poisonwood Bible. What a great book. And I agree with your reflection on it.

Tracey said...

Thank You Karen!! I was thinking that I needed to get two more SIGG water bottles and now I have no excuse.

On the lines of living simpler lives...my kids just finished watching a taped version of Frontier House. It was filmed a few years ago and shown on PBS. Three families volunteered to go back to the 1800's in Montana for 5 months and live like they did then. Well they all struggled and complained and worked harder than ever in their lives but even the spoiled California family cried when it was over. The pompus type A male dad even said that this was the best experience he ever had with his family.

You can check it out of the library or not --it just make me realize how little we need to be happy.

Karen said...

Hi Fran.
That was such a nice thing BAC wrote about us, huh? Nice to meet you!

Hi Tracey,
Welcome to blog-commenting! You are the first person from my every-day life to comment here! It feels kind of like emailing your cubicle-mate at work...except it's different because people all over get to read your comments too.

Chase March said...

I used to buy the large 1.5 litre water bottles and then refill them with tap water. I have stopped this practice and now use refillable plastic bottles that I have purchased.

There are so many reasons to stop consuming water from bottles. Thank you for this entry. Hopefully more people will now take heed.

BAC said...

Depleting our natural resources is a huge problem, and so is the harm to our teeth! Tap water contains fluoride, bottled water doesn't, so dentists are seeing an increase in cavities. Fluoride also helps build stronger bones.

From babycenter.com: Fluoride, a trace mineral found in most tap water, is best known as a dental cavity fighter. It also helps to form strong bones by bonding with calcium and phosphorus. Your baby needs fluoride when the teeth begin to form at around ten weeks; permanent molars and incisors begin developing in the second and third trimesters.

So for a lot of reasons tap water rocks!


BAC

ps: Glad to see Fran here!

TheCunningRunt said...

I refuse to drink "bottled water" as such, not the least reason being that it's not what it purports to be. Did you know that a sizeable percentage of Dasani (read: Coke) Water comes from the Detroit River??

Plus as an advocate of Thinking Globally, Drinking Locally, I just want to puke when I see my fellow Americans drinking water from the other side of the world.

Thanks for expressing so well this idea which I hold dear. You wrrrock!

Karen said...

I love all your comments. There are so many excellent reasons NOT to drink bottled water...keep 'em coming. And next time you need to convice someone to drink rockin' tap water, point them to this post and comments.

Tracey said...

I want to challenge that fluoride comment.. dentists might be seeing more cavities but where are the studies that directly link this to bottled water??? I think this is anectdotal. Could be that kids are just eating more crap and not brushing their teeth! Or not getting enough calcium.
If there is hard evidence that proves that ingesting fluoride stregnthens tooth enamel I would like to read it. I don't argue with topical flouride treatment but flouride is a toxin and since my kids were born the American Pediatric Association and the American Dental Association have 3 times altered the "safe" amount of flouride a child should ingest.
My kids have never taken flouride pills and their teeth are strong, clean and cavity free.

Darmok said...

Hi! Thanks for your note!

I'm glad to see so many of us talking about the problems with bottled water. Hope we can make people aware of how harmful bottled water is and help make it "uncool".