Some green decisions are tough: Paper or plastic? Locally-grown but not organic, or organic but not locally-grown? The list goes on. But some green decisions are really, really easy, like “Water: bottle or tap?”
A report released today, World Water Day, by Food & Water Watch gives clear reasons to boycott the bottled stuff. Bluewashing: Why the Bottled Water Industry’s EcoFriendly Claims Don’t Hold Water takes the bottled water industry, led by giants Nestle, PepsiCo and Coca Cola, to task. These corporate behemoths are touting their product as environmentally friendly, when it is damaging to water systems and to the environment in general, while a perfectly good alternative is readily available in all U.S. homes and businesses. In 2008, 8.7 billion gallons of water were taken from the environment, bottled, and transported all over the world. Production of bottled water requires vast amounts of energy, petroleum, and yes, more water: a 2006 study estimates that for every gallon of water that is bottled, two more gallons are expended in the production and bottling of the beverage.
I speak as an erstwhile bottled water addict, used to downing a liter a day and religiously recycling the bottle, all while knowing full well that it is lazy, unnecessary, and despite the advertising, not one iota healthier to choose bottled water. So many of us have been sold a bill of goods by the corporations who try to convince us of the virtues of purchasing the latest sparkling, spring-fed elixir. Yet the report points to NRDC studies showing standards for tap water in the U.S. are more stringent than those for bottled water. And while you and I may recycle, a 2006 study shows that only one out of every four water bottles was recycled–so millions of tons of plastic went straight to the landfill after that last gulp.
The companies selling bottled water are not meeting a demand, they are manufacturing one, as the newest release from Story of Stuff video creators show us in The Story of Bottled Water. The video shows how bottled water makers scare us about tap water, fool us with pictures of pristine springs, and hide the environmental toll of creating, shipping and disposing of all those petroleum-based plastic bottles. The good news is that controlling demand is in our hands…we can vote with our dollars and send a clear message to the bottled water companies that the jig is up:
Maybe you’re with me in thinking: “Tap water? Meh!” –not very exciting, glamorous, or tasty. Liven it up with a slice of lime or cucumber and pretend you’re at a fancy spa. Then spare a thought for the one billion people around the world who don’t have access to clean drinking water. Suddenly that inexpensive clear stuff flowing from your tap becomes very desirable, and you’ve won karma points for making the right, yet easy, decision.
So can we join in a pledge to “take back the tap?” And take the next step to demand investment in clean tap water for all? Work to ban purchase of bottled water by our city, school or business? Here’s an environmental action that’s easy, safe and a winner for everyone…except maybe PepsiCo.
Care2 blogger Beth Buczynski gives 10 Ways to Celebrate World Water Day…today and from now on here.
Food and Water Watch asks water activist Matt Damon to support their position on the World Water Act here.
Sign the Care2 Pledge to protect Water Quality here.
Photo: Can we defeat the Bottled Water Army?
Tazytaz via iStockphoto