After running errands and playing on a friend’s outdoor trampoline yesterday, my kids and I piled into the car to head home.
Instantly, “Mommy, I’m thirsty!” filled the car, and I, too, was parched.
Pulling into a gas station for $3.68 unleaded (it’s come down!), I spied something even more welcome: giant refrigerator cases full of bottled sodas, bottled Gatorade and bottled water. My 5-year-old son said plaintively, “I need to hydrate.”
Three chilled bottles of water later, my children and I felt much better.
I did not buy it because I thought it tasted better or was safer. I bought it because it was convenient. And therein lies a difference between Andrea and me.
She thinks society should stop buying a product that clearly meets a need – for which there is a substantial demand – because it uses a lot of fuel and the price is too high.
Well, according to basic economics, the price includes fuel costs and it isn’t too high if people are still willing to buy it in large quantities, which they are: Since 2003, bottled water has been America’s second-largest commercial beverage by volume.
The environmental argument is the only one that carries weight because that is a “public good,” which the market can’t price into the equation. But it applies to all plastic consumer packaging, and that means pretty much everything these days.
Instead of trying to ban bottled water or putting ketchup or laundry detergent in something else (metal? ceramic?), we should support efforts at more easily recyclable plastic such as lightweight PET plastic.
According to Dennis Sabourin, executive director of the National Association for PET Container Resources, Nestlé reduced its water bottle weight by 35 percent with PET bottles, which means lighter loads and less fuel.
Nestlé recently committed to even more aggressive recycling and conservation measures by 2013.
Yes, carrying tap water in reusable containers is cheaper and saves energy. And we often do so. But water remains iced only so long in 90-degree weather.
And would Andrea really suggest that my children have only the option of sugary bottled sodas instead? Which, of course, were also in plastic. In fact, given the huge rate of obesity, isn’t the rise in bottled water demand a good thing?
Andrea Sarvady, from the left: Forget bottled and turn on the tap