Take a swig of this.
I drink bottled water because I like the convenience and because I like the taste. I LIKE … and every bottle I choose demonstrates what I value most. I value myself.
Drinking bottled water is not a sin, and this post isn’t about guilt, but they are both about perspective. And so I bring you to my perspective for making bottled water a whipping boy.
Bottled water is the embodiment of self-indulgence.
In 2007, the summer issue of Fast Company, an innovative, subtly edgy and relevant magazine that pulls off personal and substantive at the same time, contained an interesting article about bottled water, “Message in a Bottle.” Or as the magazine cover successfully sensationalized it, “Special Report: Bottled Water, $15 Billion Down the Drain.”
The $15 billion represents the amount of money Americans spent on bottled water last year, which is why I’m writing this post.
“We’ve come to pay good money — two or three or four times the cost of gasoline — for a product we have always gotten, and can still get, for free, from taps in our homes.”
What does that mean?
It means that our society has reached the level of affluence where we’re willing to pay for something that we can get for free, even when “one in six people in this world has no dependable, safe drinking water.”
When we buy a bottle of water, we’re buying convenience and the “artful story the water companies tell us about the water.”
“We buy bottled water because we think it’s healthy. Which it is, of course . . . But bottled water isn’t healthier, or safer, than tap water. Indeed, while the United States is the single biggest consumer in the world’s $50 billion bottled-water market, it is the only one of the top four – -the others are Brazil, China, and Mexico — that has universally reliable tap water. Tap water in this country, with rare exceptions, is impressively safe. It is monitored constantly, and the test results made public.”
And the money we spend for this healthy convenience may seem like nothing, but consider that
“In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National Park. It’s so good the EPA doesn’t require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.”
But let’s talk about taste.
Well, it’s highly subjective. And even though I find Aquafina refreshing and think it tastes crisp and clean, while every other brand tastes flat and stale, I’d probably fail a blind taste test between waters at equal temperatures and presented in identical glasses. Most people do.
But forget about that, let’s talk about the environmental footprint that each water bottler leaves behind when bringing us the pure, clean and healthy alternative to our tap. It’s a significant footprint. It’s Sasquatch big …
Coke and Pepsi bottle their branded water at dozens of plants across the country to save on shipping costs — an eco-friendly idea. But then they place
“the local water through an energy-intensive reverse-osmosis filtration process more potent than that used to turn seawater into drinking water. The water they are purifying is ready to drink — they are recleaning perfectly clean tap water.”
Oh yeah! I drink bottled water because I like the convenience and because I like the taste. I LIKE … and every bottle I choose demonstrates what I value most. I value myself. I’m self-indulgent.
Drinking bottled water is not a sin, and this post isn’t about guilt, but they are both about perspective.
Whole Foods CEO and co-founder John Mackey said,
“You can compare bottled water to tap water and reach one set of conclusions, but if you compare it with other packaged beverages, you reach another set of conclusions . . . It’s unfair to say bottled water is causing extra plastic in landfills, and it’s using energy transporting it. There’s a substitution effect — it’s substituting for juices and Coke and Pepsi.”
And he’s right. We drink “almost twice the amount of soda as water — which is, in fact, 90 percent water and also in containers made to be discarded. If bottled water raises environmental and social issues, don’t soft drinks raise all those issues, plus obesity concerns?”
Of course the answer is yes. And so I bring you back to my point: Drinking bottled water is the embodiment of self-indulgence.
“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.”
Don’t you think there’s something wrong with that, even if you’re like me, self-indulgent, and most likely won’t change your behavior? Can’t we use that money for good and be no worse off ourselves?
World Water Day 2009 is Sunday, March 22. Think about it.
All quotes come directly from the article.