Forget bottles; turn on the faucetby Tucson Citizen on Aug. 12, 2008, under Opinion
Remember your incredulity when some shoppers first started buying bottled water?
“They’re buying water now?” we’d say to ourselves, laughing at the amount of H20 that some people were heaving into their trunks. In no time at all, most of us got into the habit as well.
Yet after taking a look at the byproducts of this indulgence, the whole bottled water phenomenon has become hard to swallow.
Most people buy bottled water either because they think it tastes better and/or because it’s safer. Yet in blind taste tests, consumers can’t tell the difference between bottled water and tap (and a few minutes in the fridge improves the taste even more).
Various studies also show that bottled water is on average no healthier for you than tap. What’s more, 40 percent of all bottled water comes from the same source as faucet water, packaged prettily and sold back to you at up to 4,000 times the cost.
Just making all those bottles we drink from takes more than 17 million barrels of oil in a year. That’s enough to fuel more than a million cars annually – and all for a product we can get in our kitchens or workplaces.
The current economy requires some painful belt-tightening measures, but I for one found it relatively easy to let go of this expensive, wasteful habit.
A cheap filter and a chemically-safe, reusable plastic or aluminum bottle is enough to keep me hydrated, saving my summer survival funds for beach and lake water instead.
Gigi Kellett, director of Corporate Accountability International’s “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign recently spoke to me about encouraging consumers to go back to the tap.
She acknowledges that some communities do have inferior water supplies, but persuades customers to fight for improved systems rather than solely relying on a short-term fix of bottled water.
Thinking outside the bottle, Kellett declares, is simply “more sustainable, better for the environment, better for our pocketbooks and better for our public water systems.”
Here’s my favorite reason for turning on the faucet: I no longer wonder if some modern-day version of a snake oil salesman has his hand in my pocket.
Now as I head to the gym to work out, refreshing bottle of tap water in hand, I feel like I’m exercising common sense as well.
Shaunti Feldhahn, from the right: Bottled water’s convenience gives it value