Bottled water: paying the price for what should be free

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Over the past couple of years I’ve been shocked at the amount of bottled water sold….everywhere! We have become so accustomed to the convenience of bottled water (similar to the convenience of plastic bags) that we don’t consider the consequences surrounding the production of the water and don’t think twice about shovelling out that 1 pound for water encased in one-time-use-plastic (which if re-used has shown to emit toxins). This is something I feel needs to be battled from many angles.

First, water is (or should be) a commons (as Peter mentioned in an earlier post). It should be freely available to everyone, yet we still manage to be pulled into the trap of purchasing it from someone who has ‘tapped’ into our water supply and then sold us that very same water (approximately 47% of bottled water comes from tap supplies).

Second, it is a HUGE industry, one with many tenticles within politics and other areas of our lives (look at Nestle who has affiliated members sitting on major utility boards).

Third, the plastic bottles are a huge environmental problem. In the US alone about 50 billion small bottles of water was consumed in one year (12% was recycled). An overall estimation is that each person consumes 30 gallons of bottled water every year!

Bottling companies have encroached on what should be common property (water) and have created a situation where there is inexcusable waste production. The good news is that some bans have been implemented, such as in Massachusetts! But the question remains—what can we do? We do need access to safe water. Here’s what I suggest- petition for more drinking fountains throughout cities; carry a reusable water bottle with you (sadly, the easiest ones are still plastic); use a filtration system at home; and most importantly advocate stricter regulations on public water testing. If we have access to safe drinking water, then there will be no need for it to be bottled, and if bottled water is banned then there will be more pressure on governments to change the water system.

Read more:

facts-bottled-water-industry-2011

bottles banned in Massachusetts

nestle-waters-conflict

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5 Responses to “Bottled water: paying the price for what should be free”

  1. Future = Bottled Air | Canada dawn light Says:

    […] Bottled water: paying for what should be free (sustainabilityandthecommons.wordpress.com) […]

  2. sdiederichs Says:

    I am all for returning to Cesar what belongs to Cesar, in other words for returning to us the right of free water, which I believe is a commons. It is true that we are so used to buy our water in bottles that we don’t even realize that water should be freely available in towns and we have progressively lost the habit of looking for water fountains. I am sure that if there is a country were tap water is safe to drink, it is in the US. I can imagine that the quality is constantly monitored, so there is no reason not to drink tap water. I totally understand the rationale behind this noble cause, but I wonder if this ban in Concord is such great news after all! Guess who must be over the moon!!! Coca Cola and all the rubbish drink manufacturers who are still allowed to sell their horrible drinks in Concord, and in PET bottles at that, at a time when obesity is a costly growing global health problem (and it is an acute problem in Massachussets!!). Water at least has the advantage to be calorie-free and healthy.

  3. jpriyarollins85 Says:

    Yes!! I’m so glad you said that! I actually wanted to put in a bit about what would happen without bottled water, but I wanted to keep my word count to the minimum. This argument was actually one bottle water companies’ rebuttle to a college wide movement to ban bottled water, similarly, the CEO of Pepsi cola was actually quoted saying ‘tap water is the enemy’ and Susan D. Wellington of Quaker Oats, the maker of Gatorade stated “When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to irrigation and washing dishes,”. You’re right, it is definitely a good idea to have an alternative to coke and all those other toxic drinks; but don’t you think that it masks the real issue? Isn’t it creating a situation of choice between two evils? I feel this argument is similar to when a child tells you ‘yes, what I did was naughty, but so-and-so did something worse, so it’s okay!’ This argument hides an even larger issue of the overabundance of sweet, carbonated beverages, which not only use even MORE water to produce, and use the same amount of plastic, but are incredibly bad for you (all you have to do is see the effect of soaking a penny or a tooth in cola for a couple weeks)!! There does need to be some level of freedom of choice, so I don’t think these items should be banned across the board, but the level and methods of production really do need to be considered and people do need to realize that conservative use is a must.

  4. u0953238 Says:

    Plastic Bottled water should equally be banned like shopping bags and public smoking. It has the same ripple effects to our environment.

  5. peterezekiel Says:

    You probably won’t be shocked to learn I agree with you!

    Thank you for raising the wider environmental issues around the commodification of water. The spread of plastic waste is a cause for concern. And the solution could be so simple.

    I was in the US last year during the extreme heatwave. What struck me as very different to London (and other towns in the UK) was the number of public drinking fountains in parks, stations and other public spaces. By no means were they “everywhere”, but I was able to take a bottle out in the morning, refill it several times over, and come back in the evening without spending several dollars on water in environmentally damaging plastic bottles.

    London once had public drinking fountains. There are still a few if you care to search for them. Expanding and rebuilding a network of public fountains would make it much easier for people to reject the choice to buy, and instead refill. The City of London began piloting a scheme to do this in 2010

    http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/environment-and-planning/environmental-enhancement/projects/previously-completed-schemes/Pages/Drinking-fountains-in-the-city—pilot.aspx

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