Go Ahead, Congress, Drink Local Tap Water
It’s astounding that, even today, people still drink bottled water. Shockingly, bottled water consumption is increasing in the United States, even though regulation has historically been much more lax on the bottled water industry. Yet the general public doesn’t seem phased and bottled water companies will try every advertising trick in the book, from using picturesque scenes of a cool mountain stream to celebrity endorsements, to get consumers to think bottled water is “better” than tap water. Hint: it’s not.
Bottled water, first and foremost, is extremely wasteful given the amount of plastic bottles needed for production and the amount of fossil fuels needed for shipment. It’s also costly and for absolutely no good reason when you can get perfectly fine drinking water for virtually nothing from your tap. Consider this: tap water costs a mere penny a gallon, while bottled water costs 100 times more. So, even if health and the environment aren’t your top priorities in life, you can save a lot of money by simply drinking tap water out of a reusable thermos.
The bottle water war recently became political when George S. Hawkins, general manager of the Washington, DC water authority, made a plea to Congress urging them to use tap water instead of bottled water for the presidential inauguration this winter. Hawkins wrote a letter to Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who announced earlier this month that Saratoga Springs Water would be the water supplier for the event. Mr. Hawkins touted the local DC water quality and even offered to provide reusable water bottles to members of Congress in place of bottled water. Even so, it doesn’t appear likely Congress will change its mind.
Is bottled water a good use of our tax dollars? I don’t think so. Congress should set an example and heed Mr. Hawkins’ advice. Bottled water should be reserved for emergency situations or for when local water sources suddenly become contaminated, which is unfortunately happening more and more in areas where toxic runoff and hydraulic fracturing takes place. Still, barring any unforeseen circumstances, let’s keep the water local and sustainable and let’s stick to our refreshing tap.
Photo Credit: saw2th