Put down the bottled water!

Good afternoon! Today I thought I’d write about how I feel on the subject of bottled water. It’s changed a lot in the last year. I have always been a water drinker, in fact it makes up for about 95% of my fluid intake. I don’t drink anything carbonated (never have in my life) or alcohol-containing, I rarely have fruit juices because I consider them flavored sugar-water, and try to drink a glass or two of milk every once in a while. So I’m a huge fan of good old H20.

Up until last year, I have purchased bottled water pretty regularly. You know, one of those big 24 packs of whatever is on sale. However, I always felt guilty throwing away the bottle after I emptied it, even if I was recycling it. So, I’d usually refill it with tap water, trying to get at least 5 uses out of each bottle before retiring it. And then I thought about it… if I’m reusing these bottles with water anyway, why even buy them? Why not just drink tap water all the time out of good (not-disposable) water bottles? And so that became one of my 2008 resolutions: no more buying bottled water!

I haven’t purchased bottled water since. Well, OK, let me clarify. I haven’t gone to the store to buy a 24-pack. I will admit that I still accept a free bottle of water when I’m at the hairdresser/day-spa/airport parking garage, etc. And when I traveled to Europe this summer, I did buy bottled water more than once. OK, so I’m not perfect. But I can’t tell you how many bottles of water I have saved since I made this move. I have a whole collection of water bottles to use and fill up with tap water. Like every American college student, I have my fair share of Nalgene bottles, although I am well-aware of the dangers of the evil BPA chemicals leaking into the water. So now I’ve moved to aluminum bottles. My current favorite is this nice one from Pottery Barn:

Yes, that’s mine with the red flowers on it :)

But enough about what I’ve done to stop using bottled water. What about the rest of the world? Fortunately, I’m starting to hear more and more of cities and organizations who are banning bottled water. People are starting to realize that bottled water is rarely anything more than filtered tap water, and that it makes no sense at all to pay money for it and fill up landfills with plastic bottles! Interestingly enough, most municipal water sources have more stringent safety regulations to follow than bottled water companies! I applaud cities like San Francisco for taking the first steps to stop using bottled water, we have to have someone to follow!

Earlier today I had a conference call with my fellow workers at the Eat Well Guide and learned about a new campaign called “Take Back the Tap” that is aimed at educating the public about bottled water and why they should switch to tap water. It’s put out by a DC-based group called “Food & Water Watch”. Interesting stuff!

May I just add that this is not just an American problem. Although we may be the biggest users of bottled water in the world, we do not use nearly as much per capita as some of our European friends. You can thank the Italians for drinking 82% more bottled water than we do. And it’s not like they have unclean tap water (I can understand the very high consumption in Mexico and other places without safe tap water). Last summer in Rome, I fell in love with filling up my water bottle from all the fountains all over the city. Europeans just like their bottled water I guess. I always felt like I had insulted someone when I ordered tap water in a restaurant. Of course, they also drink a lot of carbonated water, which at this point we aren’t able to get from a tap (but maybe in the future?.. that’d be weird)

So, enough of my tirade on bottled water. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that we drink so much of the stuff. If you’re really worried about the quality of your tap water, buy a Brita filter or something like that, but if you’re just lazy (which I suspect is the usual reason), you have no excuse! And if you just drink water because you think it looks sophisticated, get yourself a stylish water bottle like myself, and you too can receive many a compliment. :)

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