Recently, I heard something on the radio that reinforced a feeling I have daily at work: bottled water is bad. At my work, there is a seemingly endless supply of bottled water and people drink it non-stop. I have no problem with everyone drinking water, but I just wish they would bring a reuseable container to drink it out of. It seems so wasteful to go through 2 or 3 bottles of water a day when you can just refill your container from the big water dispenser anytime. I used to just reuse a disposable bottle for a week or so (and write my name on the cap), but even that seemed dumb. So now I bring in a nice $2 reuseable water bottle I bought. Then, this week I heard a story on the radio that let me know the bottled water issue is worse than I thought.
Apparently, bottled water is the 2nd most popular beverage in the U.S., after soda. This strikes me as somewhat crazy because in most places in this country, tap water is perfectly fine. Where I grew up, in San Antonio, tap water was delicious. Here in LA, it's sometimes a little weird-tasting, but still safe to drink.
What's interesting is the bottled water is not necessarily cleaner or safer than tap water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, who recently conducted a bottled water study, current bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety. In fact, the standards for bottled water are lower than those for city tap water. Oh, and despite the fact that bottled water is marketed as safer and more pure than tap, one fourth of it actually IS tap water--although it's beetween 240 and 10,000 times more expensive.
But that's not even the worst part. Bottled water actually hurts the environment far more than it protects human beings. According to the Earth Policy Institute, the manfacturing of the bottles for all the bottled water drunk in the U.S. each year uses as much crude oil as 10,000 cars. And disposal of the PET plastic used for water bottles is an even bigger problem. Burning PET creates chlorine and heavy metals, and if you don't burn them, bottles take 1000 years or more to biodegrade in a landfill. Recycling helps, but it still uses up resources to transport and reprocess the plastic. Basically, those empty bottles are bad news.
So, it seems like it's time to stop being suckered by the marketing of bottled water and get back to drinking plain old tap. OR, there's always a nice water filter on your faucet if you can't stand the taste of LA tap.